Exemplar: Spring 2020
This year, The Exemplar, continued its focal change from last year to publish exciting and new undergraduate research in the humanities produced at Dalton State. This academic year, we also started publishing two issues a year, one per semester, instead of only one issue a year and introduced awards with the Fall 2019 issue for best published paper at each course level (1000, 2000, and Upper Division).
While all of our Spring 2020 submissions were written and submitted before the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting our daily lives, we think it is telling of our current cultural moment that all of the published essays and thus our Spring issue focuses on vast changes to the ways we think, feel, act, and live. Changes to our understanding of identity, anxiety, and emotion, and how such changes affect communication, mental health, and feelings of isolation.
The first section, "Identity and Isolation," highlights literary readings of works by David Levithan and William Faulkner. Both essays in this section interrogate the ways literary texts communicate feelings of identity and isolation through critical assessments of gender and interpersonal relationships. The second section, "Anxiety and Emotion," includes a collection of essays that forward a dynamic conversation about the interplay between mental health issues, emotion, and the soul. These essays ask us to consider literary texts and sociological studies alike. Finally, the last section, "Technology and Communication," includes essays about the ways we communicate(d) in vastly different time periods. By putting these essays into conversation, we can see the numerous ways we interact with one another shifts according to social and cultural trends.
Spring 2020 Awards
Best Upper Division Paper: "The Genderless Soul and Psychological Impact of Genderqueer Identity within David Levithan" by Catherine Pickett
Best 2000-Level Paper: "The Eye Set on Eternity" by Matthew Prus
Best 1000-Level Paper: "Isolation and Privacy in ‘A Rose for Emily'" by Kirsten Guthrie
Table of Contents
Identity and Isolation
"The Genderless Soul and Psychological Impact of Genderqueer Identity within David Levithan" by Catherine Pickett
(Best Upper Division Paper)
"Isolation and Privacy in ‘A Rose for Emily'" by Kirsten Guthrie
(Best 1000 Level Paper)
Anxiety and Emotion
"The Eye Set on Eternity" by Matthew Prus
(Best 2000 Level Paper)
"A Chemical Imbalance or Something More Complex" by Ashley Fann
"Anne Bradstreet's Emotional Rollercoaster" by Tiffanie Walker
Technology and Communication
"Indigenous Rhetorical Methods of Tecumseh and Red Jacket" by Taylor Penley
"Technology, Relationships, and the Future" by MariRuth Runyon
The Genderless Soul and Psychological Impact of Genderqueer Identity
within David Levithan’s Novels
by Catherine Pickett
Best Upper Division Paper
The Soul has been a topic of philosophic debate long before Aristotle developed his theory regarding the subject around 350 BCE. It has been difficult – if not impossible – to thus far determine what the Soul truly is. Is it tied to the physical body? Is it a mindset? The most riveting argument as of late is whether gender is tied to the soul or if it is solely a physical attribution to an individual’s body. Not only is the soul separated from the body, but it is also without gender. Additionally, it is important to note the psychological affects that society has upon genderqueer individuals – namely those under the age of eighteen. David Levithan uses his novels to support the ideas and theories that the soul is without gender and that minors identifying as genderqueer should not be treated any differently than those identifying as binary female or binary male.
David Levithan is an author who has written about young adults since the latter half of 2003. He has written twenty-two books of his own and collaborated on numerous anthologies. His personal books all seem to deal with young adults, the majority of which identify outside the binary labels of male and female. From Boy Meets Boy is Paul, a young adult that has known he was gay since kindergarten, and Tony, Paul’s gay friend that lives with his Christian parents and is forced to abstain from any relationship with others that have a biologically male body. In Every Day and Another Day is A. A, an unknown being who wakes up in a different sixteen-year-old body every day. Completely genderless, A inhabits the bodies of young adults that are straight males, straight females, gay, lesbian, bisexual, drug addicts, alcoholics, illegal immigrants, and diabetics. The one trait that all these characters have in common is that they each view themselves with normalcy. Each character feels as though he or she are who they should be, even if those around them do not understand or are unwilling to attempt understanding.
The numerous characters each have specific situations they deal with, ranging from unsupportive families, bullying, and repressed emotions that can be easily acquainted with young adults. Tony, from Boy Meets Boy, seems to be the most representative character who can sum up the issues that are commonly acquainted with being genderqueer. Before beginning his story, Levithan uses the first page of the book to dedicate it to Tony, saying, “For Tony even if he only exists in a song” (Boy Meets Boy). This dedication personalizes Tony and makes him more sympathetic than he already appears to be. The implication that he does not exist is significant to Tony being unable to be himself and embrace who he truly is. The song is describing the one time that Tony was happy – when he was with his friends, able to express himself as a gay male – and freely dancing for only a few minutes.
On the first page of the story, Paul describes Tony as Cinderella, needing to get him back home before midnight (Boy Meets Boy 1). Most people know the story of Cinderella, a beautiful girl trapped inside the home of her wicked stepmother. This is Tony. Rather than being stuck in the home of an evil stepmom, he is stuck inside the home of his devout parents. The dance party in the bookstore is the ball where he gets to be himself, and Joni’s car is the coach that will turn into a pumpkin if Tony does not make it home by midnight.
The idea that the Soul is gendered is brought on through the conditioning of the surrounding society and culture, thus implying that it is necessary to label oneself as either male or female. These binary labels of male and female are what individuals rely on to define themselves, rather than taking the time to investigate their inner emotions and feelings. These labels are detrimental to humanity – namely young adults. The level of influence over anyone under the age of twenty-five is so great that it is nearly impossible for a young person to ignore. It is necessary to state that the age of young adulthood is not clearly defined. Debates among scholars argue that the sunset age for the term “young adult” ends at eighteen while others argue that the age is somewhere in the twenties. Erik Erikson determined that adolescence ranges from the ages of twelve until eighteen while young adulthood ranges from eighteen until thirty-five (Schultz and Ellen 212). Psychologically, the human brain does not complete its development until the approximate age of twenty-five. When an undeveloped brain is surrounded by magazines, books, and television, it is told to look, act, or feel a certain way, often without explanation as to why it should blindly follow these commands.
Allan Bloom argues in his The Closing of the American Mind that too often young adults “doubt beliefs even before they believe[d] in anything” (42). He feels as though young adults do not take the time to fully understand anything that is considered Other to themselves. (The Other refers to a category of people or things that is unknown to an individual. Orientalism describes that cultures of the Far East are considered Other to those of Western cultures because they are so greatly different.) It is prudent to take pride in what one personally believes; however, it is more important to discover that there are many other cultures in the world that view commonalities much different than those in the United States. While the views of those in other countries may be altogether different from views in the United States, they can be considered as Truth to those who believe it. (Truth is used in this sense to mean that there is one specific truth that is thought to be correct and the only way to live, rather than multiple truths of equal importance.) Just because something is different does not mean that it is wrong. It is just that: different. There is no need to condemn others for believing something that is contrasting with one’s personal beliefs. That leads to the closing of the mind, therefore rendering society as inerudite.
Though there are innumerous factors within popular culture that shape young adult minds, such as magazines, television shows, or social media, these factors are easily believed because humanity is so astonishingly obsessed with focusing on a generalized statement rather than taking time to fully understand the factuality behind information within the social atmosphere. The reason that fake news is so often reported is due to individuals wanting to be the first to point out something or gain attention rather than exploring the truth behind the matter. Quite often, it is noticeable that some people or cultures need to pass the blame onto those who are undeserving, only because the individual wants nothing more than to avoid a controversial subject. When addressing individuals that do not categorize themselves as male, female, or straight, those that do fall within those categories tend to use non-binary individuals as scapegoats because they are different, forcing them to become the Other. This seems to be one of the main causes for the implied necessity for binary gender labels.
Though there are infinite definitions for the term “soul,” it seems that Aristotle has one of the most in-depth explanations. In On the Soul, he alludes to the soul being the inner workings of the body, making the body what it truly is. This does not mean that a soul is the organs by which a body functions but a way to hold the body together. Aristotle created a word specifically to define his theory. That word is entelecheia, and, according to Joe Sachs, it means complete (enteles) and to be actively staying in some condition, to hold on as such-and-such thing (79).
Sachs, acting as a modern-day translator for Aristotle, prefaces Book Two of On the Soul with his interpretation of Aristotle’s theory. He clarifies that a soul is combined of five senses: nutritive (θρεπτική, threptikē), reproductive (γεννητική, gennētikē), perceptive (αισθητική, aisthētikē), being-at-work (ενεργειν, energin), and being acted upon (πάσχειν, paschein) (80). The nutritive soul is understood to be one of the more common definitions of a soul. It means that the soul is what maintains the body as the kind of thing that it is, as in human, animal, and so forth, taking care of the body and providing what is necessary for survival. It is to be further understood that the soul experiences change throughout life. Adaptation and evolution of the body through certain experiences shape the soul, much like growing out of childhood into adulthood. This is known as the reproductive soul, which is not forced to show only a physical body but also the life of a living being, becoming representational of the actions that occur throughout the evolution — from childhood to the senior years. Being-at-work refers to activity. This sense is a wholeness of identity achieved through being and staying active. Being acted upon is the maintenance and preservation of the thing that the activity is working for (80).
The perceptive soul is what determines what an individual requires. It is an “openness that takes in form without material” (80). This part of the soul recognizes types of pleasure and pain, making the body aware that it has an appetite for certain experiences. This is the part of the soul that seems most relevant to arguing that the soul is inherently genderless. The perception allows for the ultimate desire to be determined. It is with this that an individual may discern whether they are a straight male or female, gay, bisexual, agender, cisgender through learning what they are personally attracted to in an individual, both as a body and as a soul. It is this sense of soul, specifically, that determines “the character of the life so lived, and transform its end from mere living to a life that puts to work all its powers” (80).
In Book Two, Aristotle says, “For if the eye were an animal, the soul would be its sight” (83). The soul, while holding the body together with its five senses, is what defines the creature. Though the eye is what is seeing, it is merely the tool being used. The soul interprets what the eye is taking in, thus perceiving the situation as it is and relaying that information to the rest of the body that the soul has created. Aristotle believes that without a soul, the body is only a body. It may be a functioning organism, but it is not capable of philosophical thought. The body cannot contribute to defining an individual as anything other than a physical body. Rhiannon, the main character in David Levithan’s Another Day, exemplifies the idea that the soul is separate from the body. Once she develops a relationship with A, she begins to question her own identity, asking:
How much of my body is really me? My face is me, for sure. Anyone who looked at my face would know it was me. Even with my hair wet and drawn back, it’s me. But after that? If I showed myself a picture of myself from the shoulders down, would I be sure it was me? Could I identify myself that way?” She then attempts to picture herself with her eyes closed then continues, “I let it define me, but I can’t even define it” (215).
Thinking of her physical body in this manner allows her to realize that it is not the exterior that defines her. Other people may be able to recognize her in that way, but she wants to know that others could recognize her if she was like A, a soul in a different body. Levithan uses the same concept that Aristotle explains. The body is just a vessel for the importance of what is inside. Rhiannon says, “I know I am not a car, but as I walk through school, I imagine this smaller Rhiannon driving my body. She is my real self. The body is just a car” (215). The body described is like Aristotle saying that the eye is just a tool that the soul uses to see and perceive. The body is not what develops ideas and interprets situations. That is up to the soul.
A few chapters further in the book, Rhiannon meets with A, only this time A is inside the body of a “pudgy Indian girl” (233). Immediately, Rhiannon judges the outer appearance of this girl’s body. It is then that she reminds herself, “I feel awful for thinking that right away. It’s A. I am spending time with A. Focus on the driver, not the car” (233). Rhiannon is a representative of young adults within present day society, only she has developed the cognition to distinguish between the physical body and the soul. Most people automatically assume that the body and soul are one, combined and unchanging. Thanks to the relationship she has with A, Rhiannon has learned that society is too quick to judge an individual, therefore allowing her to assess her own actions and have an internal philosophical debate about who she truly is. She asks herself what makes sense in society. She wonders, “Does it make sense that Preston is seen as The Gay One when none of us are seen as The Straight One? (104).” Additionally, she wonders which pronouns to use for A. He? She? They? She says, “I know … A is both and neither, and it’s not A’s fault that our language can’t deal with that” (233). That is one of the most concerning issues in dealing with those falling in the genderqueer category. How should they be identified? There is no way to quickly tell. The time must be taken to find out what the individual prefers. Rhiannon mentions that maybe the situation would be easier if there was only one pronoun to describe everyone (233). This would be an easy fix to the problem of having too few pronouns that do nothing but further divide individuals into binary categories.
What exactly is a binary? Commonly, a binary can be thought as two of something. Though a binary does not have to be so, it can frequently be thought of as a pair of opposites, such as light and dark, day and night, male and female, or “Us” and “Other.” Aki Huhtinen explains in Binaries in Battle that Western thinkers divide the world into “two contrary poles – the Us and the Other,” stating that the Other is something that is remarkably different from Us (VII). In this case, Us represents the binary gender roles – male and female – while Other is representative of any other identity that falls outside of that binary category. This narrow category that is comprised of only two acceptable identities leads to immediate judgement of those identifying as heterosexual. It is implied that an individual’s sexuality must be either male or female to fit the standard ideal of a couple, but it has become increasingly difficult to stick to that binary as the years have progressed. Several individuals are perceiving that they are not aligned with their physical bodies. Their bodies may be the vessel that holds their soul, but the body opposes what the soul truly interprets as pleasing.
Society consistently labels individuals based on their physical descriptions – what is seen on the outside. Rather than attempting to understand the internal emotions of those that do not consider themselves male or female, those identifying with the traditional labels assume that those they classify as Other align with typical male or female labels or are either gay or lesbian. There are many more identities than the four mentioned. Robin Dembroff of Yale University tells of her experience with the word “genderqueer” and how it is being used to encapsulate multiple types of identities. She defines the term as “the category of persons who either (i) are reliably perceived as attempting to not exclusively adopt either a feminized or masculinized gender expression; or: (ii) cannot be reliably coded as having either a male or female body” (6). Defining someone based on their appearance is immeasurably unreliable. Dembroff continues to explain this through her studies. She quotes Susanna Weiss, an individual that identifies as both genderqueer and a woman: “Many people seem to believe that you need an androgynous style to be non-binary, creating the assumption that I and other non-binary people who wear women’s clothes must be women... But you can’t tell how someone identifies based on what they look like” (7). It seems that those exact individuals that identify as part of the traditional binary have developed and enforced stereotypes for genderqueer persons.
When young adults are able to perceive what their bodies desire and therefore determine what they wish to identify (or not identify) as, they often struggle in vocalizing that wish. As previously stated, the binary gender roles have been in place since the dawn of time, so breaking that binary is difficult because of the immediate rejection a genderqueer person receives from others. Society is unaccepting of those who are different and nonconforming and will frequently discriminate or alienate the Other. A mentions this in Every Day: “I like Vic. Biologically female, gendered male … If you want to live within the definition of your own truth, you have to choose to go through the initially painful and ultimately comfortable process of finding it” (Levithan, Every Day 253). A explains that there is an agglomeration of days where they woke up in a body that was something different than what A felt like. A states that there are “few things harder than being born into the wrong body” and that they believed “everyone when they said I had to be one or the other” (254). It was not until A was older that there was comfort with these situations and the ability to adapt more easily. A bit further, A tells that being “betrayed by your own body” creates loneliness because it is an uncomfortable situation that many people do not know how to talk about or handle, so it becomes avoided, eventually leading to circumstances that are similar to Tony’s.
Tony, from Levithan’s Boy Meets Boy, experiences negative reactions from his parents. They are strict Christians who are strongly against anything other than the male/female binary. Until he is sixteen years old, Tony is forced to abstain from any relationships (platonic or romantic) with males. That causes an issue in Tony’s friendship with Paul. The friendship is only successful because of lies that Tony, Paul, and their female friend Joni tell Tony’s parents. Paul and Joni are thought to be in a relationship, which is the only reason that Tony’s parents let him spend time with Paul. By the end of the story, Tony has decided that he can no longer take the forced isolation and is encouraged by Paul to stand up against his parents.
The disheartening point of this summary is that Tony’s parents have great faith and believe that only their way is the right way. They do not understand that it is possible for an individual to love another individual that is the same gender or identify as something other than male or female and have not attempted to understand that concept. Again, it is important to be firm in belief, but it is necessary to understand that there are multiple beliefs. While Tony’s parents love him and want nothing but the best for him, they believe that if they can monitor him constantly, they will be able to avoid what they believe to be one of the greatest sins: “They think that Tony’s personality is simply a matter of switches, and that if they can find the right one, they can turn off his attraction to other guys and put him back on the road to God” (Levithan, Boy Meets Boy 70), but, if the soul relies on the perceptions assimilated by one individual, there cannot be a switch to flip. Only the soul can determine the life that is lived, not the others surrounding an individual. There is nothing wrong with having religious beliefs and values, nor is there anything wrong with raising children in accordance with those beliefs and values. The problem comes when those children attempt to deviate from what they were taught to believe, and their family is unwilling to accept that change. It is not what Tony’s parents believe that is wrong, but how they handled the situation.
Sadly, Tony reaches his breaking point when his parents lock him in his room and forbid him to leave their home, which is what makes him decide that it is imperative that he stands up to his parents. When Paul sneaks in to visit, Tony begins sobbing and realizes that taking care of himself is more important than pleasing those that are trying to help him. Rhiannon tells A that they “have never seen how messed up a parent’s love can be over time,” which is exactly what has happened to Tony (Every Day 107). Tony explains to Paul how much he loves spending time with him and Joni, but he “can never really enjoy it, because I know that at the end, I’ll be back here … It’s like I’ve been pushed back into the shape of this person I used to be. And I don’t fit into the old shape anymore” (Boy Meets Boy 151). In the end, Tony is able to prove to his parents that they were wrong through embracing who he is and compromising with them. He successfully shows his parents that being gay is not a switch that can be flipped on or off; he demonstrates this fact by refusing to conform to his parents’ wishes and by displaying there is nothing that can change how he feels because he is happy as he is. Tony does not argue with his parent's commands, per se, but rather negotiates a result that will please both his parents and himself, allowing them to slowly adapt to who he is. It is the start of a long road with him, and an even longer one for his parents, but, once Tony stands up to them, Paul admits that he understands Tony’s concern. He states, “I see it in her eyes. I see exactly what Tony was talking about. That strange, twisted, torn love. That conflict between what your heart knows is right and what your mind is told is right” (154). Tony struggled standing up to his parents because he knows that they love him and are only treating him in this manner because they personally believe it is correct. It is possible that he would have had an easier experience standing up to his parents if they did not believe their thoughts and actions were right.
Unfortunately, there are many young adults that are unable to reach the point of self-comfort that will allow them to stand up, or come-out, to their families. Several young adults end up with severe depression and/or critical anxiety. Even worse, many self-harm or commit suicide. Being forced to repress a desire that is necessary to one’s wellbeing only leads to psychological negativity. Young adults may not understand why they are scorned for identifying as something other than male or female when they are vocalizing how they feel, therefore believing that their entire being is a problem.
Luckily, discussions about sexuality and self-identification are becoming increasingly more common. Several families do not know how to handle a situation that deals with something they know little about. Older generations are frequently the ones that are unaware of anything other than the typical male/female relationships existing. Because they are clueless on how to deal with the situation of a young adult coming-out, they avoid the situation all together. Rachel Schmitz and Kimberly Tyler discuss the reactions of families of genderqueer persons and the affects those reactions have upon young adults. They state that “family rejection has been shown to adversely impact LGBT young people’s health and well-being" and increases the risk for depression and negative self-worth (1196). Although their focus is shifted towards homeless young adults, Schmitz and Tyler argue that these young adults are homeless due to negative reactions of families. They believe that the path to homelessness begins when these young adults are young children, “setting the state for adult life trajectories” (1197). Relatively, this argument can be used in any sense, not solely for homeless LGBTQ+ young adults. Often, it is thought one small action can impact one’s life in a major way. This is the same concept. It just appears that an individual with a non-binary gender weighs heavier upon families and loved ones than other actions do.
In Two Boys Kissing, a novel about teens that identify as gay or transgender, each teenager tells their own story of how they are dealing with their gender identity. Cooper has a tragic story. He wrestles with his inner emotions and desires, hiding himself from everyone that surrounds him. His only outlet is within chat rooms on the internet. It is not until he falls asleep on his laptop that his world comes crashing down. He is forced into coming-out to his parents because his dad walked into his room before Cooper could notice. The reaction of his father is so severely negative that Cooper is impacted for life. His father automatically acts out in rage asking, “Do you just go off and fuck men? Is that it? While we’re asleep, you go out and fuck them?” (Two Boys Kissing 26). There is not a single second when he hesitates to think about what he should do. Immediately, he begins to call Cooper the most repulsive names, questioning “What kind of whore are you?” and continuing to yell the terms “Faggot. Disgrace. Whore. Sick” (26). Then, the verbal abuse turns violent when his father pushes him into a wall, knocks him down, and pins him so he cannot move. Finally, Cooper breaks free and does the only thing he can think of: he runs away, but not before his father throws his fist into Cooper’s face (27).
It is understandable that one may be confused when finding out about a loved one’s identity. The problem, however, is how to deal with the situation. Often, those on the receiving end of the news do not take the time to listen or attempt to understand the emotions of the genderqueer individual. The reasons for this are infinite and personal. Negatively reacting to a situation shapes the mind of the individual coming-out. Schmitz and Tyler’s article includes a study conducted with LGBTQ+ individuals aged nineteen to twenty-six. Of these, twenty-two are homeless. Quoted in their article is Yolanda, a homeless woman that identifies as bisexual. She explains that her parents “got scared and they blamed me being bisexual on society, they blamed it on schools and the teachers, the kids, but they never really looked at the real problem … ‘maybe we should accept our kid’” (1199). Several other individuals are quoted, many are the homeless and others are college students. One individual states that she bounced from family member to family member because she and her parents butted heads frequently. She says, “They were closed minded and I was very open minded and they didn’t like that” (1200).
These negative reactions influence a sense of detachment within young adults, leading them to feel self-conscious, unimportant, or trapped. Time is needed to process an individual's coming-out, especially when they are from a conservative household. It is key, though, to handle the situation in a calm manner. Drastic reactions result in impacting moments that have the potential to change a person’s life forever. Schmitz and Tyler’s study proves just that. More negative familial reactions lead to young adults being forced onto the street, leaving them “with few resources to draw from as they transitioned into a life on their own” (1200). More positive reactions, or even less drastic ones, commonly led young adults to grow up and pursue a college education. This idea is further supported by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Christina Krone, who explain how emotions and relationships influence learning and behavior. The authors emphasize throughout that “the way individuals experience relationships ... influence[s] their biological development, and hence how they live and think” (4). Although the brain can be influenced throughout one’s life, the most crucial years for impact are the years of childhood through adolescence. It is middle to late childhood when children begin to develop their sense of self. Erikson believes that adolescence (in this instance, late childhood) is merely a “hiatus between childhood and adulthood, a necessary psychological moratorium to give the person [adolescents] time and energy to play different roles and live with different self-images" (Schultz 216). Environments that support learning and growth are crucial. Children in this age need to be provided with opportunities that offer engagement in setting goals and drawing conclusions that allow them to practice abstract thinking and collaboration (Immordino-Yang, et al. 7). Feelings and emotional skills can be managed in these settings, allowing children to understand the difference between positive and negative environments.
The age that allows for the most amount of personal growth is early-middle adolescence. It is the most “fundamental period of environmentally triggered social and emotional growth, as well as vulnerability to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety” (7). Because this time of development is so fragile, it is necessary for adolescents to have close relationships with loved ones. Already prone to mental illnesses that can strongly affect their future, adolescents need extra support and encouragement as they continue to grow and understand the world around them. For example, the transition from middle to high school is full of confusion. Adolescents experience new surroundings, schedules, teachers, and peers. They are unaware of how to navigate their new situation; their senses are heightened, making them more susceptible to fear and anxiety. The cultural well-being of children and young adults is essential. The brain needs positivity to allow for maximum development. The home is the best place that a minor can go for support, next to friends, teachers, or mentors. When this setting is not provided and a child or adolescent is surrounded by stereotyping, marginalization, or stigma, a lifelong burden is imposed upon them (13). Discrimination can cause considerable amounts of harm and ultimately undermine how the brain has already developed and how it will develop in the future.
This is a common concern identifying as genderqueer – being labeled. Many want to avoid being labeled at all, hence their identifying as something other than male or female. It is just as possible for a person to identify the self as a woman that is interested in other women without the persona of being “butch,” as it is for a person identifying as male that is interested in other males without being the most fashionable of individuals. There are no set rules in place that must be followed to be considered as one that is non-binary. An eighteen-year-old named Kelsey Beckham states, “I don’t want to be a girl wearing boy’s clothes, nor do I want to be a girl who presents as a boy. I just want to be a person who is recognized as a person. That’s how I’m most comfortable. I’m just a person wearing people clothes” (Dembroff 8). In Another Day, Rhiannon asks A which body feels more at home, male or female. A responds, “I’m just me. I always feel at home and I never feel at home. That’s just the way it is” (Another Day 211). This describes the same feeling that eighteen-year-old Kelsey longs for.
In the Annual Review of Psychology, Naomi Ellemers explains in her article, “Gender Stereotypes,” that women are consistently viewed as meek and caring while men are more assertive (277). Ellemers believes that these stereotypes influence the lifestyles of individuals, implying males are more assertive and more apt to make riskier decisions, while women are more cautious. She explains that men and women are usually viewed as complete opposites, leading to immediately recognizing a distinct difference through an individual’s exterior appearance. Ellemers’s disclaims that there are few occurrences when stereotypes can be considered helpful, such as when an estimate is to be made for large groups (278). However, too many people use this concept as an excuse for a quick response. Assumptions would rather be made than taking time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of an individual, which does nothing but categorize a person as something they may not be. Consistently, Ellemers uses the example that men and women are viewed differently in the workplace. Women are not expected to focus on their careers, while men are. Any time that a man or woman may make a move that is outside of the implied stereotype, they are questioned or rejected. Whether that makes that individual a threat to others because they are disrupting societal norms, or it is just an overall shock in general, these individuals stand out and are labeled as different. There has been very little acceptance or change. This is where it seems that humanity is failing.
Janet Belsky includes a table in her text, Experiencing the Lifespan. It lists common stereotypes that are made against LGBTQ+ individuals and then explains why these stereotypes are untrue. These stereotypes range from “homosexuals are emotionally disturbed” to “homosexual couples have lower-quality relationships – their interactions are ‘psychologically immature’” (313). Belsky debunks these thoughts by explaining that many studies have been done proving these stereotypes to be unfounded. The only stereotype that could possibly hold any truth is the idea that genderqueer individuals are emotionally disturbed. There is much research that shows non-binary gendered individuals having depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Being emotionally disturbed, however, bears the connotation of being without judgement or character or possessing a certain darkness. Mental illness is the term that should be used in the place of “emotionally disturbed,” as it covers the psychological components that genderqueer individuals may possess.
It is safe to say that many binary gendered individuals have negative opinions of those that classify as something other than male or female because they do not understand how to handle the topic. In addition to misunderstanding and passing the blame, homophobia is also an issue. According to Louis-Georges Tin, the term “homophobia” was coined in the 1960s and first appeared in a dictionary in 1994. At first, the word meant “fear of being in a closed space with a homosexual” (Michaud, et al. 11). It has since progressed to meaning “an intense fear and dislike of gays and lesbians” (Belsky 313). Tin explains that even though homophobia is a newer term, it has a rich history. It has led to the blatant discrimination of LGBTQ+ persons, making the fight for equality a difficult one. What is terrifying about this fear is how it parallel’s women fighting for equal rights and African Americans fighting to end segregation. Society looks back at feminist and civil rights movements as if those involved fought against issues that have since been solved, but the reality is that the issues that women and African Americans fought for in history are still prevalent. Sexism and racial discrimination are a bit easier to recognize now, though, whereas discrimination against individuals identifying outside of the male and female gender roles is not necessarily accepted, but often tolerated within most societies.
Tradition is good. It allows history to be seen, understood, and acknowledged. The problem is that so many are unwilling to break tradition. It is not that tradition should be changed or erased but, rather, be more diverse. Tradition, however, can be set within narrow boundaries. If society is unwilling to explore diverse issues and broaden the boundaries of tradition, there can be no room for educational expansion. Much like Allan Bloom advocates, there can be no opening of the mind or furthering of education without an understanding of what others believe. This narrow-minded view of only finding importance in tradition but not in modern day practices is so hurtful within young adults. History and tradition are so heavily emphasized without explanation that it is unappealing to younger generations. As mentioned previously, history is important to understanding the present, but it is outdated: the practices at the time of an occurrence within history are no longer relevant. Times change. Technology develops. New methods are explored in the scientific fields. Why, then, is it so difficult to expand the labels with which people identify? Sticking to two labels – male and female – provides no escape for young adults. They are under strict supervision in school where they are not allowed to leave the classroom without permission, not allowed to move from their desks without asking, unable to color their hair a certain way or wear any piercings that are not confined to the earlobes (for girls only). When young adults are finally “released,” they are sent home to rules that are often just as strict, or more so, than those at school. They need to feel as though they have the capability to make their own decisions and perceptions about their own lives, but young adults are often incapable making decisions when they are confined to rigid rules and values.
Levithan has made it his priority to write characters that can relate to young adults within society that are struggling to find themselves and/or are struggling to make that identity known to their loved ones. It has been previously mentioned that negative reactions from families based on an individual’s identity has caused depression, anxiety, and low self-worth. Though Tony is a character within a fictional novel, is he truly fictional? His problems are the same as many young adults within society, and the end of Boy Meets Boy is an example of how a family’s negative attitudes towards children and loved ones identifying as genderqueer only leads to further issues. Tony’s repressed emotions and identity only lead to him becoming majorly depressed and eventually having a psychological breakdown. Perhaps Tony’s mental health would not have been so negatively impacted if his parents had not forced him to hide his identity.
Kyle, Paul’s ex-boyfriend from Boy Meets Boy, has a battle ongoing internally, too. He approaches Paul and confesses that he is confused because he likes both girls and boys. Paul tells him that he is not confused and that he knows exactly what he wants. Kyle then explains that he wanted it to be “one or the other” (Boy Meets Boy 85). He feels that every time he is with a girl or a boy, he feels like it is possible for him to like those of the other gender. It seems that he is struggling to understand that he is breaking the binary of being interested in females and that it is okay.
Avery, yet another bold and courageous character, supports the theory that the soul is without gender. Levithan describes him as being “born a boy that the rest of the world saw as a girl” (Two Boys Kissing 12). Luckily, Avery’s parents are accepting; his mother, after all, gave him a gender-neutral name. Avery is confident and lives how he wants. He sought hormones to “set his body in the right direction” (12). It is not without fear of judgement, though. As Avery meets Ryan, he begins to fear that Ryan will not like him for being transgender but also feels as if that should not matter. As Aristotle explains, the body is only physical. It is not what makes a person who they are.
Paul specifically mentions in the second chapter of Boy Meets Boy that he, “might not have realized I was different if Mrs. Benchly hadn’t pointed it out … I just assumed boys were attracted to other boys” (8). He feels that he is normal and just like anyone else until it is pointed out that he is different because he does not claim to like girls at the age of five. Has society fallen prey to the aberration of defining that a five-year-old needs be concerned with who he/she/they should be interested in? An article entitled “Princesses, Princes, and Superheroes: Children’s Gender Cognitions and Fictional Characters” explains an interview that was conducted with one hundred and twenty-six children ranging from the ages of three to eleven. These children were interviewed to determine whether they were conditioned to believe the stereotypes of princesses being for girls and superheroes being for boys. It is mentioned that between three and five-years-old, children begin to label everything they see as masculine or feminine, including their own gender identity, but have the potential around the age of seven to become more accepting of androgyny (Dinella et al. 265).
When interviewed, the children (sixty-six boys and sixty girls) were told to use the terms “loving,” “nice,” “friendly,” “polite,” and “gentle” to describe feminine traits. To describe masculine traits, they were told to use “strong,” “protects people,” “leader,” and “smart.” In the end, 65.1% of children said that princesses were for girls, 26.2% for boys and girls, and 4.8% for boys, resulting with the conclusion that girls stereotype more flexibly. Only 16.7% of older children, however, believed that princesses were for girls and boys while 32.9% of younger children thought princesses were for both girls and boys (272). The interesting aspect is that the study considered participants younger children if they were under the age of seven, while children considered to be older were aged seven to eleven. It is to be noted that the study stated that children around the age of seven have potential for becoming more flexible in their labeling, but those interviewed tended to be more set in their idea that princesses, princes, and superheroes are intended for one gender or the other – with no gray area.
Younger children have a smaller capacity to understand society’s implicated rule that there can only be male and female. They do not understand why they must conform to one gender or the other when there are infinite possibilities to behold. As they grow, they are shown by their elders how to act and think and expected to do so without explanation. These children are surrounded by television shows, films, and toys that tell them what their interests and pleasures should be. The conducted study asked children about specific superheroes and princesses, ones that were known for specifically gendered attributes with implied masculine or feminine characteristics. The study hypothesized that older children would stereotype these characters as intended for a specific gender identity. These older children did so, and without any fault because they cannot be blamed for believing what their surroundings have taught them. Rhiannon explains that when she was younger, she enjoyed the book Harold and the Purple Crayon because “having the power to draw your own world” appealed to her so much (Another Day 228). She, much like the younger children in the study, are intrigued at the notion of creating their own world where they can be anything they want, free from judgement and confinement.
Though the subjects of this essay are vastly different, they can be easily tied together by the simple realization that gender is not something that should be based on biology or the stereotypes upon which society has come to rely so heavily. Aristotle noted that the soul is the living part of the body – that the physical body is nothing but a vessel. There are several personal accounts, interviews, and studies that exemplify this philosophy. The character of Avery supports this idea, as well. Physical appearance does not indicate identity. Rhiannon demonstrates this in Another Day. She evaluates herself and begins to question every aspect of an individual, regardless of what their exterior presents.
Tony and Cooper are the perfect examples of what negative outlooks can do to a young adult. The brain and the soul need support. They need to know that the people they care about, and those that care about them, are willing and ready to offer encouragement. Without this positivity, these adolescents are left feeling unwanted and unimportant, all because the initial reaction people have to news that is different or unexpected (or classified as Other). Taking time to process is key.
Because every young adult is different and developing in their own way, there is not a correct way of parenting, supporting, guiding, or teaching. That is why taking time out is gravely important. It is not necessary to agree with the decisions of others, but it is necessary to offer respect. After all, there is no way to truly understand how another is feeling because it is not possible to put the self in another’s shoes. Nobody can be like A. It is not possible to switch bodies every day and view the lives of others as it is one’s own. The attempt to understand, the willingness to try, speaks volumes and can at least make the struggling youth feel as if they have worth. A sums this up nicely when asked about their favorite body they inhabited:
I was once in the body of a blind girl. When I was eleven. Maybe twelve. I don’t know if she was my favorite, but I learned more from being her for a day than I’d learn from most people over a year. It showed me how arbitrary and individual it is, the way we experience the world. Not just that the other senses were sharper. But that we find ways to navigate the world as it is presented to us. For me, it was this huge challenge. But for her, it was just life. (Every Day 245)
Basically, A realizes that individuals within society make hasty judgements without reason. Being placed into this blind girl’s body allowed A to realize that there is much more to the world – to people – that needs to be discovered. People need to be understood rather than viewed a certain way without reason.
Openness leads to acceptance. Acceptance leads to comfort. Comfort leads to happiness. A happy individual, one comfortable in his or her own skin and living the life he or she feels he or she was meant to live, is capable of all forms of success. Supporting loved ones in younger years will ultimately allow adolescents to set goals and find the courage to reach goals, and even surpass them. Aristotle refused to label or identify the soul based on social judgments of gender. His philosophy and the traditions begun by many ancient Greek rhetoricians made room for a tradition with diverse paths. Offering support and an open mind when faced with controversy will, in turn, allow young adults the opportunity to do the same, paving the way for future generations to live with positivity and respect for the world.
Belsky, Janet. Experiencing the Lifespan. Worth Publishers, 2016.
Bloom, Allan David. The Closing of the American Mind. Simon & Schuster, 2012
Bos, Abraham P. "Aristotle on the Differences Between Plants, Animals, and Human Beings and on the Elements as Instruments of the Soul (De Anima 2.4.415b18)." The Review of Metaphysics, vol. 63, no. 4, 2010, pp. 821-841. ProQuest, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.25681173&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=dal1.
Dembroff, Robin. “Beyond Binary: Genderqueer as Critical Gender Kind.” Philosophers’ Imprint. 2019. Discover GALILEO, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=edsupp&AN=edsupp.16317&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=dal1.
Dinella, Lisa M., et al. “Princesses, Princes, and Superheroes: Children’s Gender Cognitions and Fictional Characters.” The Journal Of Genetic Psychology, vol. 178, no. 5, Sept. 2017, pp. 262–280, Discover GALILEO, doi: 10.1080/00221325.2017.1351417.
Ellemers, Naomi. “Gender Stereotypes.” Annual Review Of Psychology, vol. 69, Jan. 2018, pp. 275–298. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011719.
Huhtinen, Aki, et al., Binaries in Battle: Representations of Division and Conflict. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.
Immordino-Yang, Mary Helen, et al. “The Brain Basis for Integrated Social, Emotional, and Academic Development: How Emotions and Social Relationships Drive Learning.” The Aspen Institute, 20 Sept. 2018, Discover GALILEO, https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=eric&AN=ED596337&site=eds-live&scope=site&custid=dal1.
Levithan, David. Another Day. Knopf, 2015.
---. Boy Meets Boy, Knopf, 2003.
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Sachs, Joe. Aristotle’s On the Soul and On Memory and Recollection. Green Lion Press, 2004.
Schmitz, Rachel M., and Kimberly A. Tyler. “The Complexity of Family Reactions to Identity Among Homeless and College Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Young Adults.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 47, no. 4, May 2018, pp. 1195 – 1207, Discover GALILEO, doi: 10.1007/s10508-017-1014-5.
Schultz, Duane P., and Sydney Ellen. Theories of Personality. Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009.
Isolation and Privacy in “A Rose for Emily”
by Kirsten Guthrie
Best 1000 Level Paper
In this world, there are many people with secret obsessions who are fighting battles no one knows about. In William Faulkner’s story, “A Rose for Emily,” he lets readers see Emily’s dirty little secret. “A Rose for Emily” dives into how her obsession led to her ultimate isolation from society. The theme of isolation and privacy can be seen through the deaths she has to deal with, as well as a society that misunderstands and disapproves of her love life. A decaying setting, possible Oedipus Complex, and irony of the rose all play a role in Emily’s confinement within the walls of her home.
In Thomas Dilworth’s review, “A Romance to Kill for: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily,’” he talks about Emily’s need for a companion and fear of being alone. He analyzes the town and the narrator, along with their relationship with Emily and how they all reflect each other. The narrator gives her backstory by using the metaphor “a rose for Emily.” Dilworth says, “[T]he metaphorical rose they give has, however, very sharp thorns—revelations of craziness, murder, and necrophilia” (261). Dilworth’s review helps readers understand the themes of isolation and privacy to be true. The people in town disapproved of Emily’s relationship with Homer, and they thought they had influenced her to not be with a man of another class. However, she had been hiding a secret that whole time. While the people thought he was out of Emily’s life, he was dead and locked away in a bedroom upstairs. The final reveal of Homer’s decayed body when the town discovered him at Emily’s funeral showed the unveiling of years of truth that was symbolized by Emily’s isolation and privacy.
There are lots of symbols in “A Rose for Emily.” Her house and the town are both representations of the decaying settings. In “‘An Eyesore among Eyesores’: The Significance of Physical Setting in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily,’” Sura M. Khrais explains how Emily’s house represents the isolation that develops inside the home. Starting from the outside, the house is decaying and smells bad compared to the rest of the growing town. Inside her house, Emily is in control. She can be whatever she wants to be, which in this case is a murderer, selfishly in love. Emily's choices in life are what ultimately lead to her isolation and confinement from society. The title “An Eyesore among Eyesores” is self-explanatory. Emily's house is an eyesore compared to the rest of her town. She is old and does not adapt to new ways. Her house, much like Homer’s body, is decaying before everyone’s eyes. Miss Emily is delusional enough to not notice the isolation she is leading up to because she is stuck inside of her decaying house. Living there all those years, Emily fills the house with many secrets. She likes to keep things private, and she is a great secret keeper.
Faulkner gives hints about Emily’s characteristics throughout the story. One thing any reader will know is that Emily had a complicated relationship with her father. Timothy O’Brien talks about whether the rose for Emily was literal or metaphorical in his article “Who Arose for Emily?” O'Brien suggests that the rose is not meant to be a literal rose but instead is a tribute to Emily. He says, “It can refer to Homer Barron as Emily’s romantic rose, a keepsake rose; or as a memento that love once flourished in her life” (101). By killing Homer and keeping his body a secret, Emily could have control of him longer. Emily could be with Homer despite the town disapproving because he was dead, and nobody knew it. By keeping this secret, she metaphorically brings her father back from the dead. Emily killed Homer and kept him to herself because she was unwilling to live without him. However, covering up his disappearance and death was what led to her isolation.
As stated before, Emily is thought to have an interesting relationship with her father, maybe one that is too close and inappropriate. Some people, such as Jack Scherting, speculate a possible Oedipus Complex in this story. In “Emily Grierson’s Oedipus Complex: Motif, Motive, and Meaning in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily,’” Scherting argues that Emily has mental issues that go along with the Oedipus Complex and believes that Emily’s father isolated her so much in her childhood that when he died, she was unable to function without him. She wanted to feel that attachment again somehow, and she decided to use Homer to get it. When Emily’s father passed away, it took a while for her to let go of the body and release it to the town. It took a sudden emotional breakdown for them to be able to hurry in and get his body. Emily did not want to let go. She wanted a relationship like this again, but she wanted it longer. She wanted it forever, or however long she could get away with it. So, when Homer showed up, she knew she would find a way to keep his body for as long as she wanted to. Emily kept Homer a secret until she died, and there was no way to keep the secret anymore. She kept it inside, leading to the isolation and privacy of Emily’s home in order to keep loved ones all to herself for good.
Emily Grierson liked to live a secret life. She faced a lot of ridicule from society about the man who she wanted. She decided that if anyone was going to keep him, it would be her. She went to extreme measures to cover up what she had done. "A Rose for Emily” demonstrates how being possessive and lonely can drive a person insane and lead to madness, or even murder. Emily hid Homer’s body locked away upstairs for years so that she could have someone forever all to herself without a chance of them leaving. She took it to extremes, and ultimately, locked herself inside her house for her whole life. The kind of privacy that Emily needed was what made her so isolated from society. Emily took her secret to her death bed. Many factors go into the outcome of her life. An early strange relationship with her father led to a deadly obsession in the future. The decaying house, body, and town were all symbols of Emily’s isolation. The rose for Emily was not a literal rose. Instead, it was a symbol of her life and the choices she made. Her gray hair lying beside Homer’s corpse was a reminder of her unhealthy obsession. “A Rose for Emily” deals with secrets that lead to isolation and the ramifications that follow.
Dilworth, Thomas. “A Romance to Kill for: Homicidal Complicity in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily.’” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 36, no. 3, Summer 1999, p. 251. Literary Reference Center Plus.
Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. Robert DiYanni. 6th ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2008. 79-84. Print.
Khrais, Sura M. “‘An Eyesore among Eyesores’: The Significance of Physical Setting in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily.’” International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, no. 6, 2017, p. 123. Directory of Open Access Journals, doi:10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.6p.123.
O’Brien, Timothy. “Who Arose for Emily?” Faulkner Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, Spring 2015, pp. 101–109. Academic Search Complete, doi:10.1353/fau.2015.0010.
Scherting, Jack. “Emily Grierson’s Oedipus Complex: Motif, Motive, and Meaning in Faulkner’s ‘A Rose for Emily.’” Studies in Short Fiction, vol. 17, no. 4, Fall 1980, p. 397. Academic Search Complete.
The Eye Set on Eternity
By Matthew Prus
Best 2000 Level Paper
The seventeenth century Puritans of New England believed in utter piety in every facet of life. Anne Bradstreet was no exception. Being the first American poet at a time when female authorship was discouraged, Bradstreet was a shining beacon for many female authors to come. Even though strongly displaying the Puritan ways and beliefs, her works displayed her true self for all to see. In several of her poems, Bradstreet’s consciousness of eternity shows itself boldly, and, even in times of poor health, her poems reflect a strong knowledge of what is to come after this world and a complete focus on the spiritual rather than the physical, suggesting how the majority of humanity is too focused on the temporal.
Many of Bradstreet’s works use symbolism and contrast to impart upon her readers the Puritan message of piety through an utter disregard of the wealth of the world and an unwavering focus on the eternal. According to Mahfuz ul Hasib Chowdhury, author of “Diaspora and Ecclesiastical Dualism in the Works of Anne Bradstreet,” Bradstreet often contrasted “binary opposites like sin and salvation, vice and virtue, hope and despair, death and immortality” (228). Many of her works throughout her lifetime display just this. In the poem “The Flesh and the Spirit,” for example, Bradstreet contrasts humanity’s worldly desires with the character of one whose eyes are set on eternity:
Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold
Than eyes can see or hands can hold.
Eternal substance I do see
Mine eye doth pierce the heavens and see
What is invisible to thee. (31-32, 75, 77-78)
Bradstreet shows stark contrast between the two, showing that chasing worldly desires is not having an eye set on eternity. There is a “‘deadly feud ‘twixt [flesh] and [spirit],’” (44) for according to spirit, “‘[t]hy sinful pleasures I do hate, / Thy riches are to me no bait’” (Bradstreet, “The Flesh” 44, 57-58). Furthermore, spirit says that “[t]hine honors do nor will I love, / For my ambition lies above’” (Bradstreet, “The Flesh 59-60). Indeed, Bradford seems to be showing her readers just how temporal humanity’s outlook is.
In several of Bradstreet’s works, she used the “binary opposites” that she wrote about to employ a kind of “ecclesiastical dualism” (Hasib Chowdhury 228-229). According to Hasib Chowdhury, Bradstreet “had a long struggle to curtail her attachment to this world” (228). This is clearly shown in “The Flesh and the Spirit,” as Bradstreet’s own inner struggle between the two is symbolized as two disputing sisters, Flesh, who represents her inner love for the world, and Spirit, who appeals to her better, Puritanic, nature. The worldly Flesh serves to symbolize the times when she “is found plunging herself into the charms of earthly life” (Hasib Chowdhury 229), directly contrasting Spirit, who shows Bradstreet’s resolve in standing firm in the Puritanic doctrine of piety:
‘Be still, thou unregenerate part,
Disturb no more my settled heart,
For I have vowed (and so will do)
Thee as a foe still to pursue.’ (37-40)
Truly, “The Flesh and the Spirit” bears underlying symbolism, alluding to Bradstreet’s own inner struggle, but the poem’s triumphant ending proclaiming Spirit’s unwavering belief shows Bradstreet’s firm resolve in the eternal.
Similarly, Bradstreet uses her poems to spread the message of Puritan doctrine while also typifying elements of her own life story. Especially present in Bradstreet’s powerful endings, she is often found “imbedding herself within literary and religious contexts” in order to “understand the world and the great questions of life” and reach an “ultimate, transcendent meaning,” as stated by Paula Kopacz, author of “‘To Finish What’s Begun’: Anne Bradstreet’s Last Words” (177). Indeed, Bradstreet’s works show her drive to impart upon her readers that “transcendent meaning” because she adhered to the Puritanic belief that “everything one does receives divine notice” (Kopacz 177), and she sought to inspire within her readers the same belief through symbolizing her own life. In doing so, she left a gripping message of the worth in keeping an eye on eternity rather than pursuing worldly desires.
Even in the face of suffering, Anne Bradstreet used her struggles for the better. According to Amanda Porterfield, author of “Female Piety in Puritan New England: The Emergence of Religious Humanism,” “suffering held great religious meaning for Bradstreet as the guide to ‘what was amiss’” (108). Bradstreet used these occasions as a learning opportunity to grow her faith, saying that her experiences with physical illnesses were “‘the times when the Lord hath manifested the most love to [her]’” (Qtd. in “Female Piety in Puritan New England”). Porterfield writes, “Bradstreet developed her ability to love in the context of suffering” (111). Certainly, Bradstreet did not let her physical hardships crush her spirit. Rather, she used her suffering for the better, loving her family and her Lord even in uncertainty, and this distinguished her as a strong woman of faith in the midst of submissive Puritan wives. Although some would consider Bradstreet as a normal Puritan image of “redemptive female suffering . . . [that] certified their moral purity” (Porterfield 116) and that Bradstreet’s suffering was merely “exploited as a means to emotional insight and commitment to Puritan theology” (Porterfield 153), Bradstreet is in no way normal. Her firm, unwavering faith even in trials separates her from the rest, and even her poetry reflected her character, which further shows that her works serve to impart upon her readers how rewarding an eternal focus truly is.
Additionally, Bradstreet’s poems reflect a vast knowledge of things beyond this world. As stated by Spirit and symbolized as Bradstreet’s own spirit, “[t]he city where I hope to dwell / There’s none on earth can parallel” (85-86). Moreover, Bradstreet recognizes:
From sickness and infirmity
For evermore they shall be free,
Nor withering age shall e’er come there,
But beauty shall be bright and clear (101-104).
According to Porterfield, this awareness of eternity “provided a bastion of safety from the constant bouts with physical weakness and suffering that plagued her throughout her life” (109). Bradstreet was able to pull such strength in the midst of struggle as she “lived constantly aware of the two levels of time—humanity’s mortal time on earth and God’s eternal presence” (Kopacz 184). This awareness helped her stay strong even in suffering. Truly, Bradstreet’s knowledge of what is to come after this life on earth is vast, especially as she used it to remain firm even in the face of physical pain, and that character is reflected in her works.
Furthermore, Bradstreet recognizes that life on this earth is short. According to Lucas Hardy, author of “No Cure: Anne Bradstreet’s Frenzied Brain,” “Much of Bradstreet’s later poetry . . . takes affliction as its focus, and pain and illness begin to define her speakers and frame their spiritual identities” (328). This newer focus seems to serve as a reminder to her readers that life is short. Moreover, in “Before the Birth of One of Her Children,” Bradstreet seems to write directly to her husband a farewell letter for when she is gone. Bradstreet writes,“All things within this fading world hath end . . . No ties so strong, no friends so dear and sweet / But with death’s parting blow is sure to meet” (1, 3-4). Bradstreet recognizes that she too will have an end to her life here on earth: “How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend, / How soon’t may be thy Lot to lose thy friend” (“Before the Birth” 7-8). Bradstreet also instructs her husband on what to do once she is gone: “Look to my little babes, my dear remains. / And if thou love thyself, or loved’st me, / These o protect from step Dames injury” (“Before the Birth” 22-24). Finally, Bradstreet tells of what was most likely a bittersweet ending to her life, telling her husband to “kiss this paper for thy loves dear sake, / Who with salt tears this last farewell did take” (“Before the Birth” 27-28). Certainly, Bradstreet knew how fleeting life on earth is, and she left a seemingly deathbed message for others to also reach this realization because she understood that most of humanity then was wasting their lives on worldly pursuits and not acknowledging just how short one’s time on earth is.
Even in showing the inner struggle between flesh and spirit and recognizing that time on earth is fleeting, Bradstreet shows the resolve that she has reached through it all. She is set on her pursuit towards the eternal: “If I of heaven may have my fill, / Take thou the world, and all that will” (Bradstreet, “The Flesh” 107-108). Moreover, she seeks to comfort her husband when she is gone from this world: “And when thou feel’st no grief, as I no harms, / Yet love thy dead, who long lay in thine arms” (“Before the Birth” 19-20). Bradstreet continues, “And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse, / With some sighs honour my absent Herse” (“Before the Birth 25-26). According to Hasib Chowdhury, the “fundamental paradox” that was present in many Puritan works that “this life means death and this death ushers us into another real life which is imperishable and endless” is evident in Bradstreet’s works as a “categorical reference to resurrection” (230). These references in many of her works, especially present in her later poetry (Hardy 328), serve to show the resolve that she reached towards the end of her life, through her dogged pursuit of all things spiritual and not physical and her resolve even in death, to the point of looking to comfort those around her even when she is gone, and it vividly shows that her poetry had an intended message for all of humanity that pursuing worldly desires is worthless and that life is extremely short.
In summary, Anne Bradstreet was a skillful poet who used symbolism in her works to impart messages to her readers. In writing, she left lessons for her readers imparting the message that a pursuit of worldly desires is meaningless and that one must always have an eye set on eternity because life is just too short. Even in her preparations for her departure from this earth, she comforted those around her through her poetry, and, in so doing, she taught her readers that even in looming death, one must not abandon the drive towards eternity.
Bradstreet, Anne. “Before the Birth of One of Her Children.” Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46450/before-the-birth-of-one-of-her-children. Accessed 30 January 2020.
Bradstreet, Anne. “The Flesh and the Spirit.” Amerlit, Michael Hollister, contributor, 2015. http://www.amerlit.com/poems/POEMS%20Bradstreet,%20Anne%20The%20Flesh%20a nd%20the%20Spirit%20(1678)%20analysis.pdf. Accessed 29 January 2020.
Hardy, Lucas. “No Cure: Anne Bradstreet’s Frenzied Brain.” Women’s Studies, vol. 43, no. 3, Apr. 2014, pp. 318–331. https://search-ebscohostcom.dsc.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=95431517&site=ehost-live&custid=dal1. Accessed 13 February 2020.
Hasib Chowdhury, Mahfuz ul. “Diaspora and Ecclesiastical Dualism in the Works of Anne Bradstreet.” ASA University Review, vol. 9, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 227–232.search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=116350662&site=ehost-live&custid=dal1. Accessed 11 February 2020.
Kopacz, Paula. “‘To Finish What’s Begun’: Anne Bradstreet’s Last Words.” Early American Literature, vol. 23, no. 2, Sept. 1988, p. 175. search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=5412255&site=ehost-live&custid=dal1. Accessed 13 February 2020.
Porterfield, Amanda. Female Piety in Puritan New England the Emergence of Religious Humanism. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992, Chapters 3-4, pp. 80-153. Web. daltonprimo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/f/8ouhpl/01GALI_USG_ALMA51149730980002931002931. Accessed 14 February 2020.
A Chemical Imbalance or Something More Complex
by Ashley Fann
Anxiety is a term used rather commonly in modern times. Through the casual use in daily life to the media representation of the term, the definition has become clouded. Anxiety is a very diverse, mental phenomenon affecting individuals in varying ways. Because each individual has a unique experience with anxiety, to fully understand the term anxiety, one must bed educated on the definition of the concept, the process of diagnosis, treatment options, and the stigmas which often create misconceptions about the issue. For this specific study, the researcher conducted an anonymous survey and an interview to collect further data.
The nine survey questions given will be provided below. The first was a multifaceted question to assess basic demographics of participants which consisted of a) What is your age? b) Are you employed and a student, simply employed, or simply a student? The age of participants ranged from 14-33 with a concentration of participants being of college age (18-22) because the researcher expanded from simply one class. This question also showed that ten participants are simply students, nine work while attending school, and three only work. This part was important because it allowed the researcher to evaluate the stress levels of these groups.
The basic demographics were then followed by 2) What is your definition of anxiety? 3) Do you have any experiences with anxiety? 4) What symptoms do you associate with anxiety? 5) Have you ever experienced an anxiety related event? 6) What are your thoughts about treating anxiety with medication? 7) What other treatments are you familiar with? 8) What do you think causes anxiety? and 9) Is anxiety a mental illness? The results will be detailed and discussed throughout this paper.
Most commonly, the term anxiety or being anxious is used to describe the feeling of being nervous. Typically, this reference is used in the context of tasks such as test taking or first dates. The reality is that anxiety is much more complex than the mundane ways it is often referred to and that anxiety can cause some very harsh effects. Anxiety is almost an umbrella term used to describe individuals who experience “feelings of being extremely overwhelmed, restless, fearless, and worried” (Antidepressants, 2006).
Participants of the study seemed to reflect the various ways to view anxiety: casually, chemically, and emotionally. The casual view of anxiety has roots in the daily use of the term. Factors such as social media lead to this with creations of ideas such as, “The fear of missing out,” which, “refers to the social anxiety,” when feeling, “disconnected from social experiences” (Duong, 2016). This specific term, fear of missing out, can be found on applications such as Facebook because one, “can scroll through the feed and be updated on where your friends are, who they are with and what they are doing without you” (Duong, 2016). Much like daily life, social media also prompts anxiety about being rejected or judged. One participant of the survey defined this causal anxiety as “the little devil on someone’s shoulders.” Another participant defined the way anxiety affects them on a daily basis by explaining, “when waiting in lines at stores or cafes, I double and triple count the money in my pocket or keep my hand on my gift card to make sure I actually have it,” which some may perceive as a normal habit until it becomes compulsive. In this case it has become compulsive, almost like an addiction or coping mechanism. This participant concludes their entry by stating, “I repeat my order over ten times in my head or count and recount the groceries at checkout. I count the stairs in my house every time I go up and down them to make sure I do not trip or to simply distract my mind.”
One way to view any mental phenomenon is through a strictly scientific lens. One of the responses to the second survey question reflects this view. One participant stated, “Anxiety is when your body has reactions to your stress level.” It is also commonly said that anxiety is “due to an abnormality in the brain involving chemical messengers called neurotransmitters” (Antidepressants, 2006). These neurotransmitters include chemicals such as serotonin, commonly found in anti-anxiety medication, and norepinephrine.
It is important to also note the deeply emotional ways some individuals experience anxiety. Anxiety can also be linked to other issues such as depression, which is important to keep in mind as one learns more about the condition. Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is “the most common anxiety disorder and an important risk factor for secondary psychiatric illnesses such as depression or substance abuse” (Havranek, M.M. et al, 2017). Because “SAD has many close relationships and overlapping symptoms with other psychiatric disorders,” it is commonly seen as merely a symptom of another disorder when in reality it is the causation. This also explains why some people’s experiences are much darker than others. One participant defines their anxiety as the “fear of existing, dreading everyday things that I should be accustomed to and not knowing how to deal with life.” Another participant chronicled their experiences through the following response, “Anxiety is the never ending sense of 100% surety that something or everything will go drastically wrong throughout the day. It is overthinking about how you can prevent the absolute from happening, not just to you but also to your friends. It is constant worry that you are annoying or a burden and that everyone actually hates you. Anxiety is crying at little things such as when you are cleaning dishes and drop a plate but it does not crack, yet you just cannot help the self-loathing feeling that washes over you for being klutzy. Anxiety is bursts of anger even on good days. Anxiety is locking yourself in solitude because you are so physically and emotionally drained.”
The Process of Diagnosis
As previously stated, the effects of anxiety vary from individual to individual; however, there are key signs. One key sign would be “withdrawal from feared social situations even though they (the patient) may realize that their fears are excessive or ungrounded” (Havranek, M.M. et al, 2017). Typically, the diagnosis is made after a consultation with one’s physician in which the patient explains what issues they are experiencing which may interfere with daily life. Symptoms of anxiety range in severity from excessive sweating to breathing problems, paranoia, claustrophobia, and even the inability to complete tasks. Participants of the survey also reported experiencing shakiness, getting easily worried, anger, increased heart rate, headaches, nausea, chest pain, and even fainting. In an interview, one individual explained that they experience panic attacks at least once a month which then leave them exhausted both physically and emotionally for the remainder of the day. (This interview subject wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of this subject.) These symptoms “have a considerable negative impact on the social functioning, quality of life and career progression and tend to increase over a patient’s lifetime” (Havranek, M.M. et al, 2017). Nineteen out of the twenty-four participants reported having an experience with an anxiety-related event.
Anxiety is a neurological issue which gives treatment option availability and flexibility to each individual. However, not all treatment options work for everyone and often it takes trial and error to find the right treatment option. There are numerous medications used to attempt the treatment of anxiety, but the most commonly used medications are antidepressant drugs because they can “help to rebalance brain chemistry so the symptoms of depression and anxiety are alleviated” (Antidepressants, 2006). Some antidepressants work by “raising the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brains of depressed individuals” (Antidepressants, 2006). Fourteen participants agreed that treating anxiety with medication is helpful if individualized to each patient. The rest of the participants were against medication for reasons including concern about side effects, the possibility of addiction, and in one case, perception: “I think it is all in your head.” When asked about other treatment options, participants suggested meditation, yoga, exercise, therapy/counseling, art/music therapy, and positive thinking.
Following this research, the conclusion that has been met is that anxiety is definitely an individualized issue which requires detailed attention from both the person struggling and their physician. Anxiety is not always what the media presents it to be. Anxiety is a multifaceted mental disorder with various effects in each case.
Antidepressants. (2006). In B. C. Bigelow (Ed.), UXL Encyclopedia of Drugs and Addictive Substances (Vol. 1, pp. 76-93). Detroit, MI.
Duong, D. (2016). Social Media Can Cause or Worsen Anxiety Disorders. In T. Thompson
(Ed.), At Issue . Does the Internet Increase Anxiety? Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven
Press. (Reprinted from Anxiety Disorders: Social Media Edition, Anxiety.org
Havranek, M. M., Volkart, F., Bolliger, B., Roos, S., Buschner, M., Mansour, R., ...Ruch, W.
(2017). The fear of being laughed at as additional diagnostic criterion in social anxiety
disorder and avoidant personality disorder? PLoS ONE, 12 (11)
Anne Bradstreet’s Emotional Rollercoaster
by Tiffanie Walker
Anne Bradstreet, though not very well known by the average individual today, is one writer who more individuals should become familiar. Comparing her popular poems entitled “To My Dear and Loving Husband,” “The Flesh and the Spirit,” “Before the Birth of One of her Children,” and "The Author to Her Book: reveals how she can bring forth such raw emotions from one poem to the next. She does not have one particular style of writing, and her versatility means she never disappoints her readers. Bradstreet’s poems exhibit feelings of pure devotion and unsettling battles with inner peace, sorrow, and animosity, all experiences people typically encounter, and readers can use Bradstreet’s words to better understand their own emotions and circumstances.
Ellen Brandt describes Anne Bradstreet and her husband Simon’s relationship as “a happy and sensual one” (46). This is evidenced in Bradstreet’s love poem addressed to her husband and fittingly titled "To My Dear and Loving Husband." In this poem, she demonstrates how she is “deeply in love with her husband” (Brandt 46). Bradstreet writes, “If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were loved by wife, then thee” exhibits the two separate beings becoming one by joining together in marriage, while outright expressing the love she feels for her husband (lines 1-2). The way Bradstreet can express strong feelings in such a short poem is astounding. She is able to explain the depth of love between husband and wife when she writes "My love is such that rivers cannot quench," explaining her reward for receiving God's love, while "Nor ought but love from thee give recompense" refers to her husband's love being her greatest reward in life from him (lines 7-8). Her ability to describe a successful romantic relationship stands as a beacon of hope for readers. While Bradstreet can write joyful, full of love poems, she is also able to write with a darker, remorseful tone as well.
A battle within one's self can be difficult. Bradstreet documents her struggle between physical and spiritual beings in “The Flesh and the Spirit.” She regards these two beings as sisters, meaning they are joined together side by side in this life. She describes her physical self as being concerned with material items in "One Flesh was called, who had her eye./ On worldly wealth and vanity" (lines 5-6). The spirit she refers to as being concerned with a higher power in "The other Spirit, who did rear Her thoughts into a higher sphere" (lines 7-8). Throughout this poem, Bradstreet demonstrates the battle she faces between obtaining tangible, materialistic items "silver, pearls, and gold" to fulfil her physical satisfaction, while her spirit prefers intangible items (line 31). Her spirit argues that God's blessings and His word are what it takes to satisfy her, as evidenced when she says, "The hidden manna I do eat, The word of life it is my meat" (line 67-68). Branka Arsic explains that “Spirit shuts her ears, closes her eyes by directing her mind to the invisible, removes herself from the body, and protects herself against the material” (1028). This demonstrates Bradstreet’s religious beliefs are much more influential than her physical wants, and Spirit ultimately wins the inner battle she struggles with. As humans experience life, each individual has felt this same tug between desires and rules, and Bradstreet’s depiction can help readers understand their own struggle.
While she writes about love and a battle with inner peace, Anne Bradstreet also writes about sadness. In “Before the Birth of One of her Children,” Bradstreet addresses the poem to her husband in the likelihood of her dying during childbirth, which was common during her time. Carrie Blackstock describes how Bradstreet writes individual poems that focus on her love for her husband, which allows her to “momentarily elude” reality (239). This reality, for Puritans, was that a woman’s role as a wife was strictly a partnership for producing young Christian children (Blackstock 239). Puritans believed that wavering outside of this strict partnership would tempt the married persons to lose their site with God (Blackstock 239). “To love (her husband and children) for their own sake would indicate a dangerous attachment to this world," according to Blackstock (239). Bradstreet demonstrates this when she writes, “If any worth or virtue were in me, Let that live freshly in thy memory,” meaning if her life was of any worth to him or her children, to please keep her memory alive so that her child may know her as his/her mother (lines 17-18). Blackstock states that Bradstreet demonstrates this attachment towards the end of the poem (239). Bradstreet asks her husband to “love thy dead” if she were to die and to identify her presence in "my dear remains," to which she means her children (lines 20, 22). Bradstreet writes this poem with the hopes that her husband is never faced with reading it, but, if he must, she explains, "And if chance to thine eyes shall bring this verse, With some sad sighs honour my absent Herse; And kiss this paper for thy loves dear sake, Who with salt tears this last Farewel did take" (lines 25-28). She kisses the paper to mimic her final kiss to her dear husband, while his tears symbolize her final farewell from this life —this emotional turmoil over a loved one is a situation with which many can identify.
To express anger, Bradstreet writes of her experience reading her published book for the first time in "The Author to Her Book." This book was published by her brother-in-law without her permission, and she regards this publication as an unwanted child (Bensalim 105). Bradstreet first describes the book as “Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain, Who after birth didst by my side remain," as if it were an illegitimate child (lines 1-2). She further describes it as being taken away from her, assumingly by her brother-in-law (Bensalim 106). Bradstreet defines the book as "Made thee in rags," meaning she is dissatisfied with the way it looked, just as child in dirty clothes would look. She is also upset with the idea that this “child” of hers was exposed to the public eye “Where errors were not lessened” because “(all may judg)” (lines 5-6). She details her embarrassment as evidenced by her saying, “Thy blemishes amend, if so I could: I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,” and “But nought save home-spun Cloth, i’ th’ house I find” (lines 12-13, 18). Her book was bound with what cloth she had in her home, and, while it wasn’t the cleanest or best, trying to wash it only made the fabric worse. She was angry with herself for the way her book appeared, but as she explains in the end, her mother was poor, so the publication was necessary in order to get money for her mother. While there should be some excitement with publishing a book, there is more anger portrayed in this poem with the way it was taken from her and published without her permission.
In conclusion, Anne Bradstreet is such a mesmerizing writer. Without having a singular writing style, she can provoke a rollercoaster of emotions from her readers. This is a superb quality because readers do not know what to expect from one reading to the next. She writes in a way that readers are intrigued and left wanting more. Her poems can appeal and are relatable to almost everyone as they are filled with immense love, emotional physical/spiritual battles, overwhelming sadness, and even anger.
Arsic, Branka. “Brain-Ache: Anne Bradstreet on Sensing.” ELH, vol. 80, no. 4, 2013, pp. 1009–1043. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24475525. Accessed 15 Feb. 2020.
Bensalim, Amel. "Flaws are only Parchment Deep: How Form and Biographical Features Shape Anne Bradstreet’s “The Author to Her Book." Verso: An Undergraduate Journal of Literary Criticism (2019).
Blackstock, Carrie Galloway, (1997). Anne Bradstreet and Performativity: Self-Cultivation, Self-Deployment. Early American Literature, 32(3), 222.
Bradstreet, Anne. “Before the Birth of One of Her Children by Anne...” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46450/before-the-birth-of-one-of-her-children.
Bradstreet, Anne. “The Author to Her Book by Anne Bradstreet.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43697/the-author-to-her-book.
Bradstreet, Anne. The Flesh and the Spirit (1678). www.amerlit.com/poems/POEMS%20Bradstreet,%20Anne%20The%20Flesh%20and%20the%20Spirit%20(1678)%20analysis.pdf.
Bradstreet, Anne. “To My Dear and Loving Husband by Anne Bradstreet.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43706/to-my-dear-and-loving-husband.
Brandt, Ellen B. “Anne Bradstreet: The Erotic Component in Puritan Poetry.” Women’s Studies, vol. 7, no. 1/2, Jan. 1980, p. 39. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/00497878.1980.9978501.
Indigenous Rhetorical Methods of Tecumseh and Red Jacket
By Taylor Penley
Shawnee leader Tecumseh and Seneca orator Red Jacket conveyed their thoughts on the issue of white encroachment using differing messages and devices. Upon the greater colonial infringement into Native American territories, the gifted orators of various tribes sought to employ rhetorical devices which would appeal to their white adversaries and fellow natives. Speaking on behalf of their people and while standing on the principles of these various indigenous nations, these orators employed devices such as double discourse, analogy, repetition, simile, and debated hyperbole. These rhetorical devices, used to persuade either a white or indigenous populace, feature almost Aristotelian elements. Particular emphasis on generating sympathy indicates a preference for pathos in the words of these indigenous orators, but elements of ethos and logos also appear.
Tecumseh’s speech to the Osages makes notable repetition of the word “brothers.” In other works of Native American rhetoric, this word was used to convey a sense of brotherhood among the indigenous populations, as a way of invoking a familial bond. Seneca orator Sagoyewatha or ‘Red Jacket’ was notable for this in his 1805 address to white missionary Jacob Cram. “Brothers,” he states, “The Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not opened our eyes” (231). Red Jacket seeks to draw a comparison between his own indigenous culture and the culture of the white people without denying the concept that both are children of the same deity. This, in essence, does not take away from the chastising power of his former words, but rather reinforces it by calling the whites to consider what crimes they are committing against their native brothers. However, Tecumseh’s narrative differs in nature, audience, and message. Red Jacket’s message was both a chastisement and a plea to the oppressing populace, while Tecumseh spoke with a black-and-white sense of urgency conditional on the white man’s presence. “Brothers –” he states, “The white men are not friends to the Indians: at first, they only asked for land sufficient for a wigwam; now nothing will satisfy them but the whole of our hunting grounds, from the rising to the setting sun” (233). Presented in these two orations are use of the same repetitive rhetorical device to display contrasting messages of coexistence and extinguishing of an opposing culture.
Furthermore, double discourse is a rhetorical device employed by Red Jacket but not by Tecumseh. Red Jacket’s narrative speaks to those in opposition of his culture, so the techniques employed would differ from those in usage of someone speaking to a more sympathetic audience. Both orators exemplify the Aristotelian pathos, however, citing human emotion as a way of prompting response. Tecumseh speaks in powerful terms of indigenous togetherness, stating that “if we all unite, we will cause the rivers to stain the great waters with their blood” (233). Tecumseh speaks with language mimicking hyperbole and simile, with the comparison of white men to “wolves and panthers” that would “kill [them] or drive [them] back” (233). This statement, though elaborate in language, is not hyperbolic in intent. It induces fear in the audience through pathos while expressing what the orator has observed to be true of his tribe’s fate. Logos is applied in Tecumseh’s oration through the offering of evidence which supports his claims. “Brothers – When the white man first set foot on our grounds, they were hungry; they had no place on which to spread their blankets, or to kindle their fires” (232). From this imagery, Tecumseh develops a statement that the white people came to these lands as vulnerable beings but were strengthened by the Shawnee and took advantage of that strength, a claim he provides evidence to support.
Red Jacket’s use of pathos differs from Tecumseh’s. No language to incite fear is presented, and what is used is, instead, more focused on religious coexistence between white and indigenous populaces. Red Jacket employs an admonishing tone to project his ideas onto his audience, stating that the infringement upon Native American religions is contradictory to the European concept of religious freedom. After speaking disapprovingly of the quarrelsome nature of 17th century Christians, Red Jacket says “we also have a religion, which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive; to love each other, and to be united” (231). Red Jacket is swift in drawing comparison between Christian and Native American beliefs, stating that the indigenous peoples never dispute religious beliefs and are united under the Great Spirit. This also employs logos or logic and parallelism through examples that speak to the white audience on terms easily understood. On a basic level, ethos is present in the orations of both Native American speakers, for their experiences and evidence which sustain their claims makes them appear legitimate.
Analyzing the unique qualities of both Tecumseh and Red Jacket through their orations enhances contemporary understanding of Native American rhetoric and relations with the white populace. One indigenous account depicts the Native American lifestyle as one that seeks coexistence with white oppressors. The other, however, draws heavily upon distinct imagery and hyperbolic language to warn of impending threats. These orators, regardless of their message, serve the purpose of representing the voice of a native populace, a voice otherwise not spoken after the ultimate effects of colonialism.
Sagoyewatha. "Reply to Missionary Jacob Cram." The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Nina Baym, vol. 1, Norton, 2013, pp. 230-231.
Tecumseh. “Speech to the Osages.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Nina Baym, vol. 1, Norton, 2013, pp. 232-233.
Technology, Relationships, and the Future
by MariRuth Runyon
“In the United States alone, the percentage of internet users increased from 9.24% in 1995 to 78.24% in 2011” (Kang and Munoz 198). With this rise in usage, technology-based relationships have become a new normal for society. From texting and emailing, to direct messaging and video chatting, online communication has skyrocketed. Most smartphone applications contain some form of instant messaging that can connect users to people all around the globe. Without these advances in technology, correspondence would not be as progressive as it is now. The opportunity to be in a long-distance relationship, or even friends with someone from another country, is all made easier due to online messaging. Those who are growing up in this new digital age are experiencing a unique type of connection firsthand. While technology plays a crucial role in today’s communication, technology can isolate those who use it and negatively changes how interpersonal relationships are handled.
Without the progression of electronic communication, society would be at a standstill. Mass communication would be difficult and slow without emails or texting. There would be large barriers to correspondence, such as time, and location. An instant connection can be made between all members of society with a simple tap of a screen. Though these advancements are important to how society functions, communications technology is actually isolating its users rather than bringing them together. In his article, “The Influence of Technology on the Initiation of Interpersonal Relationships,” Jeffrey McQuillen points out that users can self-select information and hide the supposed negative parts about themselves from others; this is all enhanced by communications technology because there is no verbal or face-to-face interaction (616). Each user is focused on how to tweak their own online characteristics instead of earnestly connecting with others and making a positive and beneficial impression. Media has become self-centered, and people are detaching from their true selves.
In addition to this, nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and gestures are lost when communicating online. In a study done on Florida high school students, Cyr et al. states, “When people cannot see and hear others with whom they are communicating, they are deprived of the visual and auditory cues of facial expression, body language, and voice dynamics that convey emotion and meaning” (81). Without seeing a person, one cannot truly grasp their honest emotions, which can lead to miscommunication. The user becomes fixated on their own perception of the other person’s response, and, without being able to gauge expressions, they fail to form a real bond. This creates another separation between people, leaving each party isolated and emotionally disconnected.
Though online communication has many benefits, such as documentation of conversations and quick accessibility, it has also resulted in a negative effect on real life interactions. By communicating online, users have time to carefully think about what they are going to say and edit a response. This can be seen as a positive aspect, but it has led to issues concerning face-to-face situations. Jeffrey McQuillen continues his article by pointing out that live conversations are quick paced, whereas technology allows plenty of time for editing a response; face-to-face communication is more spontaneous, which places a strain on cognitive resources (616). The relationship between response time and online communication has been found to alter a person’s feedback time in real life interactions. In an experiment done on university students, Kang and Munoz found that “the individuals who preferred online communication with friends were perceived to be less socially skillful in a stranger-encounter situation— especially during the first 1-minute of the social interaction” (206). They later concluded, “this pattern of outcome implies that the individuals who prefer online communication need more time to be ready for social interactions” (Kang and Munoz 206). Technology has reprogrammed minds to need a longer response time and, in turn, has made face-to-face interactions difficult for many. With this setback, real life social interactions lack depth and have an anxious stigma around them.
The digital age has brought many beneficial communication technologies and extensive internet knowledge that is changing the future of society. A call or message can be received within seconds, and the ability to search for any topic is as simple as typing it out. Despite the positive changes, it is still altering one of the most important parts of society, the youth. Technology is changing how a young person develops their whole identity. Cyr et al. touches on this topic in their study on adolescents:
Communication technology may be one contributing factor to an increase in identity disruption and distress, both directly, with the ease with which one can create false identities, extreme identities and identities disconnected from reality; and indirectly by disrupting the quality of social relationships, through which identity issues are often explored and resolved. (82)
Adolescents struggling with identity is not a new topic, but it is clear there is a strong correlation between identity issues and how one presents oneself online as well as how one interprets the virtual words of others. By forming a self-selected online persona, users struggle with seeing who their true selves are and how to accurately present what they are feeling. These identity issues, combined with continued internet use, take a heavy, personal toll. Towards the end of their study, Cyr et al. found that extensive online activity is a large contributing factor to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem along with physical ailments like poor sleeping, eating and exercising habits (81). With future generations seeing these issues as a common occurrence, it is clear technology is slowly changing society’s whole dynamic. Interpersonal relationships are being poorly redefined, and communication is gradually deteriorating, leading to an increase in emotional and physical problems.
Communication technology has taken relationships to another level for society. Everything about the current state of communication is immediate and global. Most people text, direct message, email, or call to correspond with one another. The ability of mass communication is something people in the nineteen hundreds could only have dreamed. While these advances are mostly beneficial to society as a whole, the emotional weight virtual communication has on its members is nonprogressive. From isolating its users, and depleting future generations, technology has completely changed human connection. It has created a form of disengaged and one-dimensional interpersonal relationships that will gradually become the new normal.
Cyr, Betty-Ann, et al. “The Role of Communication Technology in Adolescent Relationships and Identity Development.” Child & Youth Care Forum, vol. 44, no. 1, 11 July 2014, pp. 79–92. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s10566-014-9271-0. 21 October 2019.
Kang, Sun-Mee, and Martha J. Munoz. “Preference for Online Communication and Its Association with Perceived Social Skills.” Individual Differences Research, vol. 12, no. 4–B, Dec. 2014, pp. 198-208. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=pbh&AN=100210826&site=eds-live&scope=site. 16 October 2019.
McQuillen, Jeffrey S. “The Influence of Technology on the Initiation of Interpersonal Relationships.” Education, vol. 123, no. 3, Spring 2003, pp. 616. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=slh&AN=9557721&site=eds-live&scope=site. 16 October 2019.