Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two Different Decisions: Same Happy Outcome

Silas Lapham achieves his fortune through hard work and a little bit of luck, his morals then force him to lose everything, or did he lose everything? Had Lapham gone against his ethics and used a looser sense of business ethics he could have salvaged something money wise but I think his conscience would have paid for the loss in double. Silas’s decision to stay true to his morals gives him more than the money that he would have gained if he had tried to salvage. This is very interesting because his daughter goes against her better judgment and chooses her own happiness. I support this decision because it’s just logical, if she stays away from Tom then he won’t be happy she won’t be happy and Irene won’t be happy. If they are together then only Irene won’t be happy, and as we discussed in class, at 14 (or younger) she is way too young to be heartbroken for more than a week. But it is important to Pen that Irene be happy. If there was a morality scale, Pen giving up Tom would be as far left as you can get but she chooses to get together with Tom, sacrificing her morals. This is different than Mr. Lapham’s very far left decision that he sticks with. That is, Mr. Lapham made a decision that is on the very far left of his morality scale, and he stuck with it not sacrificing his morals just to keep some money to give his family some of the extravagant life that they had. One situation shows a person staying true to their morals and getting to return to their original happy life free of the superficial social ideals that the money brought them. The other situation shows a person choosing against their better judgment and living a happy life as well. Howells is not trying to say whatever decision you make you will be happy but rather, one life will be happier and it’s not always the same type of decision that will get you there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Frat Rats vs. Daisy

I felt compelled to talk about the article Sarah wrote as I happened to have read the last couple articles she has written and this latest one, fits so well with what James’s story portrays. I will first speak of their similarities, which are many. Mrs. Walker most closely relates to Sarah’s position, I say this because she seems more to want to help Daisy then Mr. Winterbourne’s Aunt, who seems to want to cut her down more than anything else. Sarah is reaching out to these girls that are putting themselves in situations that are socially unacceptable (even in today’s day in age.) Mrs. Walker just wants Daisy to abide to the rules of the culture she is presently surrounded by. Sarah is speaking to these young girls who are in a new situation that gives them a lot of freedom. Both Daisy and her two accompanying men, and the girl walking down Greek row with her smudged mascara and ruffled party dress are leaving social implications that are worth speaking of to those that witness them. I do believe that Daisy is in a situation where she could be just as innocent as she actually is, though she will not be viewed that way. It is hard for me to see the girl on College Hill and imagine her getting back from a play with her girl friends and being so moved that she had to stay over and talk about it until she fell asleep. When I see those girls I am more likely to believe that they were up late partying, and found intimacy in some way with someone they did not know well enough. The last difference may be the biggest because it may be one of the underlying messages of James’ novel. I believe that James wrote this trying to prove that these implications that people are making are not always correct. Too many times gossip will get out of hand, and an innocent, healthy, relationship like Miss Daisy’s with Mr. Giovonelli turns into some scandalous gossip that ruins Daisy’s reputation without real facts. Maybe this shows us that more of these “frat rats” are just girls heading home from their girlfriends house after a nice play.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Jean has proven her arrogant attitude from the start.

Dane Dezellem

Jean is not a character that always makes decisions that we can agree with but I believe that we should have seen that coming very early in the book. Though we know that “I wish I was thirty, but, as I am not, I do my best to look and seem old.” Jean responds to Mrs. Coventry after Mrs. Coventry exclaims how young she is. Jean is a very strong character, and enjoys the power she has over people. This is our first glimpse at her personality, when we find out that she is not 19 but 30, this passage comes directly to mind. She is almost playing a game at these peoples expense, and she is the only one that gets the joke. It is obviously not necessary for her to hint at her real age, when it is so important to her that she be seen as young and accomplished. I understand why she would like to be seen as younger, but flaunting how well she can lie (when she is the only person that can see her flaunting) really shows the kind of attitude she has. Confidence is the first word that comes to mind, but I would venture to say that her confidence expands into arrogance. Taking unnecessary risks, which gain her nothing, prove the arrogance. We get another glimmer of this haughty attitude shortly after when she speaks to Gerald. Gerald is a “cool, indolent man” yet with a sharp look and some sly words she penetrates his walls leaving him defenseless and Lucia with a burning hatred for her. Though these are our first interactions with Jean, we already get the sense of haughty attitude that she is capable of. Late in the book we see the kind of character Jean has, and she is not the most agreeably character, but I argue that we could see this coming from the first time we met her.