Published: 23rd March, 2015 Last Edited: 23rd March, 2015
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The plot revolves around George and his simple-minded friend Lennie, who go in search of work, trying to achieve the dream of owning a small patch of land. George has to take care of Lennie because his Aunt Clara has passed on and George was good friends with her. Their troubles with women goes back to the last ranch they used to work at. George described Lennie's actions at the last ranch to Slim, "He Seen this girl in a red dress. Dumb bastard like he is, he wants to touch everything he likes. Just wants to feel it. So he reaches out to feel this red dress an' the girl lets out a squawk, and that gets Lennie all mixed up, and he holds on 'cause that's the only thing he can think to do." (42). Once they reach the Salinas valley ranch, Lennie is told immediately not to go near Curley (the boss's son) or his wife. Lennie ignores George's warnings and when asked to feel Curley's wife's hair he panics just like in Weed and breaks her neck. This makes Candy (George and Lennie's friend) very angry as he wanted to be apart of the dream to. He bursts out in rage saying, "You god damn tramp,' he said viciously. You done it, di'n't you? I s'pose your glad. Ever'body knowed you'd mess things up. You wasn't no good. You ain't no good now, you lousy tart." (94)
Foreshadowing is used throughout the novel to give readers an idea of what's to come especially when Lennie kills Curley's wife in the barn. This is shown by Lennie's victims gradually becoming more important as the book goes on. Firstly he kills a mouse, then a pup and finally to Curley's wife. This pattern becomes more prominent as the novel progresses.
Steinbeck has used various themes throughout the book. The novel is set in the Great Depression where women were treated as second class citizens. They were expected to fill the role of homemaker while the men went to work. The men's practice of using women for physical purposes without any emotional attachment was an indication of their attitudes towards women. This is represented by the men's use of the 'flop houses' where their monthly salaries would be spent on booze and women. Due to their isolation and loneliness this was a common practice of the ranchers during this time period. As a result George does not have any reason to trust Curley's wife from the beginning as the only women he knows are those from the flop houses. Throughout the novel 'The American dream' is a reoccurring theme. However, what George and Lennie perceive as the dream is very different to how Curley's wife's interpretation. George and Lennie's dream involves the two owning a few acres of land and being self-sufficient, where as Curley's wife's dream is about being a famous actress. None of these dreams come true though because of the discrimination against the mentally challenged (Lennie) and women (Curley's wife). Steinbeck focuses largely on George and Lennie's dream where as Curley's wife's dream is only briefly mentioned before she dies. Steinbeck clearly tries to display the message that Curley's wife's dreams are not as important thus making her a less important character.
Throughout the novel the majority of the men's relationships (including George and Lennie) with women is either very hostile or simply for pleasure. Curley and his wife have a very bitter relationship. Curley is a very controlling and obsessive husband; for example, when all the men go into town at the end of the month Curley's wife isn't allowed to come and has to stay in the house. The reason why Curley's wife married him in the first place was to get away from her mother and into the movie industry, She talks about how she thought her mother stole the letter that was supposedly going to start her movie career, "I always thought my 'ol' lady stole it. Well, I wasn't gonna stay no place where I couldn't get nowher or make something of myself, an' where they stole your letters. I ast her if she stole it, too, an' she says no. So I married Curley." (87) However, she grows tired of his derogatory ways and longs to explore the outside world. Curley isn't the only person who treats his wife very bad, in fact throughout the novel the ranchers tend to avoid her completely and call her names behind her back. Over the course of the novel she is called a 'tramp', 'tart', 'bitch', 'jail-bait' and 'rat-trap'. This is caused by the way the she acts towards them. Curley's wife is very lonely and she will often try to seduce the men on the ranch. The men however think that she is trouble and they want nothing to do with her. This is shown when George says to Lennie, "Don't you ever take a look at that bitch. I don't care what she says and what she does. I seen 'em before, but I never seen no piece of jail bait worse than her. You leave her be." (33). These relationships reiterate that Steinbeck's representation of women in the novel is disturbing.
Steinbeck's use of descriptive language is essential in building an image of Curley's wife. Steinbeck provides two very different descriptions of Curley's wife. One when George and Lennie first see her and the other when she is dead lying in the hay. At the start of the novel she is described as "Full rogued lips and wide-spaced eyes, heavily made up. Her fingernails were red. Her hair hung in little rolled clusters, like sausages. She wore a cotton house dress and red mules, on the insteps of which were little bouquets of red ostrich feathers." (32) This is a very detailed description of her appearance, however Steinbeck positions the reader to view her as a very one dimensional character. This description helps the reader to form a very clear physical image of her. The description focuses on physical aspects thus suggesting that she is more of a sexual 'object' rather than a human being. When she is lying in the hay she is described as, "And the meanness and the plannings and the discontent and the ache for attention were all gone from her face. She was pretty and simple, and her face was sweet and young. Now her rouged cheeks and her reddened lips made her seem alive." (91).The second description informs the reader that beneath the make up and issues she was having, she was a very different and much simpler person.
Steinbeck's representation of women is very disturbing and quite sexist. The key features of the novel which Steinbeck has used all point to a representation that is not acceptable in today's society. Regardless of Steinbeck's portrayal of women in his novel, this novel is still a fantastic book and should be experienced by everyone.
By Nicholas Jamson
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Title The Lowland Author Jhumpa Lahiri
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Geography is destiny in Jhumpa Lahiri's new novel, The Lowland. Her title refers to a marshy stretch of land between two ponds in a Calcutta neighborhood where two very close brothers grow up. In monsoon season, the marsh floods and the ponds combine; in summer, the floodwater evaporates. You don't need your decoder ring to figure out that the two ponds symbolize the two brothers — at times separate; at other times inseparable. But there's still more meaning lurking in this rich landscape. Lahiri's narrator goes on to tell us: "Certain creatures laid eggs that were able to endure the dry season. Others survived by burying themselves in mud, simulating death, waiting for the return of rain."
For most of Lahiri's novel, we're stuck in the mud with the cautious older brother whose name is Subhash. Consequently, there's a quality of stillness to The Lowland that, especially in its opening sections, almost verges on the stagnant — or would, were it not for Lahiri's always surprising language and plotting. The Lowland is something of a departure for Lahiri, whose other work often explores the struggles of Indian immigrant families. The Lowland. instead, opens in Calcutta in the 1950s and '60s, and keeps returning there even as the main story moves ahead in time.
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Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies. Marco Delogu/Courtesy of Knopfhide caption
Marco Delogu/Courtesy of Knopf
Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri is the author of The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies .
Marco Delogu/Courtesy of Knopf
As a college student in the late '60s, Subhash's younger, more daredevil brother, Udayan, becomes involved in the Maoist "Naxalite" political movement, set on bettering the living conditions of India's poor through violent uprising. Subhash, in contrast, dutifully dedicates himself to personal, rather than collective, improvement: He earns a scholarship to study science in America and moves to Rhode Island. For a couple of lonely years in a student boarding house, he learns to live without the voices of his family. But when Udayan is executed by the police in that very same marsh between the ponds, Subhash races back to Calcutta. He goes to comfort his parents; but, as it turns out, he also rescues his murdered brother's pregnant wife, Gauri, from her own diminished future as a widowed (and unwelcome) daughter-in-law.
The Lowland is buoyantly ambitious in both its story (I've only summarized the first quarter of the novel here) and its form. Subhash, his parents, Gauri and the daughter she eventually bears are all reticent people — at one point, Subhash thinks of them as "a family of solitaries" — so it's necessary for our narrator to constantly eavesdrop on their various thoughts and relay them to us. For instance, Subhash proposes to Gauri by stressing the practicalities of their union: He woos her by saying in America she could pursue her studies in philosophy. But his unspoken words are those of a lovesick poet: "[Subhash] had tried to deny the attraction he felt for Gauri. But it was like the light of the fireflies that swam up to the house at night, random points that surrounded him, that glowed and then receded without a trail." Hastily enough, the two do wind up marrying and raising Gauri's daughter in America, but the memory of Udayan — his fierce politics and his terrible death — has corrosive aftereffects.
From Murals of New York City (Rizzoli): Time (1937), by José María Sert, painted on the ceiling of the 30 Rockefeller Center lobby. Courtesy of Rizzoli.
In 1931, a widow and her young children were murdered in cold blood in a tiny West Virginia town very near the place where Jayne Anne Phillips grew up. In Quiet Dell (Scribner), Phillips mesmerizingly spins together fact and fiction, vividly imagining the circumstances leading to their deaths, and sets a young female reporter on the case to solve it.
Photojournalist Paul Conroy and kickass war correspondent Marie Colvin were a team before she was taken out in Syria. In Under the Wire (Weinstein), Conroy relives their odyssey and its harrowing final hours. Eric Schlosser detonates a truth bomb in Command and Control (Penguin Press), a powerful exposé about America’s nuclear arsenal. Peter Savodnik proves that, whether in the U.S.A. or the U.S.S.R. lonely Lee Harvey Oswald always felt like The Interloper (Basic Books).
You can stop praying now; beloved Elizabeth Gilbert blessedly returns to the novel in The Signature of All Things (Viking). Delia Ephron’s essay collection Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc. (Blue Rider) is anchored by the loss of her sister Nora. Good news: Clive Thompson explains how technology isn’t dumbing us down but making us Smarter Than You Think (Penguin Press). Dani Shapiro crystallizes more than 20 years’ worth of lessons learned teaching and writing into the instructive and inspiring Still Writing (Atlantic Monthly Press). Bill Bryson parades the outsize characters making history in 1927 through One Summer (Doubleday) in America. Liesl Schillinger’sWordbirds (Simon & Schuster) lets fly a lexicon of witty neologisms for the modern age, such as “Polterguy” and “E-Quail,” mated for life with illustrations by Elizabeth Zechel. Glenn Palmer-Smith’sMurals of New York City (Rizzoli) reproduces the five boroughs’ pre-eminent public art, from Bemelmans to Sorel. Andrew Zega and Bernd H. Dams take an architectural view of Central Park NYC (Rizzoli).
And, finally: No mortal soul, save for V.F. editor in chief Graydon Carter, could possibly have risen to the monumental task of editing the swanky Vanity Fair 100 Years: From the Jazz Age to Our Age (Abrams). So much beauty so close to home.
Sweet ’n’ Lowland
J____humpa Lahiri is an elegant stylist, effortlessly placing the perfect words in the perfect order time and again so we’re transported seamlessly into another place. In her new novel, The Lowland (Knopf), it’s the 1960s, and violent revolution has come to Calcutta and America, with reverberations to be felt by generations to come. Every family story is somehow a war story; Lahiri has a talent for coolly illustrating this truth. On one side of The Lowland is the bookish and obedient Subhash, on the other his charismatic, rebellious younger brother, Udayan, to whom Subhash has always felt inferior. While Subhash breaks away from home to quietly pursue his studies in America, Udayan stays behind to join the Naxalite movement. Lahiri conveys the complicated nature of their relationship in Udayan’s letters to Subhash:
“The days are dull without you. And though I refuse to forgive you for not supporting a movement that will only improve the lives of millions of people, I hope you can forgive me for giving you a hard time. Will you hurry up with whatever it is you’re doing? An embrace from your brother.”
What happens to Udayan in the lowland is the spark that ignites the novel. Subhash’s forced return and the discovery that the woman his brother has defiantly married is also pregnant will launch him into the battle of his life.
Summary: A summary of Jacqueline Susann's "Valley of the Dolls", also including details about the author's life.
Jacqueline Susann was born on August 20, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At age eighteen she left Philadelphia and moved to New York where she could pursue in an acting career. She played a supporting role in a television series, and wrote, produced, and stared in 2 live commercials every night. She won Best Dressed Woman in Television award four times. The first book she wrote was "Every Night, Josephine!", a simple, fun novel about her dog. When that became a hit she was quick to write her next novel, "Valley of the Dolls". The book was almost rejected by her publishers due to its content. The novel was released February 10, 1966, it was an instant hit. The public loved reading about the secret life of Hollywood, the life the public had not known. The readers loved "guessing who" the novel was based on.
"Valley of the Dolls" is a novel that takes.
This section contains 720 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Reviewed by D.L. Mayfield
Remember that the revolution is the important thing, and that each one of us alone is worth nothing— Che Guevara, in a last letter to his children
Lahiri quotes Che near the end of her book, the long and quiet and powerful novel The Lowland. It is a shocking sentence, written by severe and resolute revolutionary, and the reader feels the sorrow of the intended recipients, the children of the soon-to-be-lost-forever father. By this time, at the end of the story of two brothers and the women in their lives, we are apt to spot the sorrow lurking everywhere. As the novel elegantly slides back and forth between perspectives, time marching on and then doubling back on itself, we slowly start to understand these basic ideologies that drive and fail the characters. Revolutionary actions are born out of the pain of inequality; duty and obligation are seen as a means to transcend the chaos of life; people become inward and closed-off, unable to count their blessing still they are almost all gone. It is a novel about separate lives, coming together and crashing apart.
The Lowland is similar to the other works that Lahiri has written: beautiful, sparse accounts of people lost in new worlds. I am always struck by how she writes about the particulars of feeling strange: learning to drive a car (so solitary as opposed to the crush of being one passenger in a million), the cups of tea prepared to particular tastes (sugar, scalded milk) as a way of combating the outside world, the bated breath of watching your children grow up in a world so terribly different from your own. Although I know the author would not approve, I can’t help but think (paraphrasing Gary Shteyngart talking about another queen of parallel lives, M.I.A.) that the immigrant is strong with this one. Her writing is an outflow of her own life, born to Bengali parents, raised on the East Coast. Her author image, emblazoned on the back of the book, shows a beautiful, intelligent women—with a slip of something covering her hair—a scarf, a shawl?—a reminder to the reader of either how far or close our own realities are to hers.
The New York Times recently asked Lahiri what kinds of immigrant fiction inspired her, supposedly crowning her the queen of the genre. Lahiri didn’t bite. “The term ‘immigrant fiction’ doesn’t sit well with me,” she said. “It just so happens that many writers originate from different parts of the world than the ones they end up living in, either by choice or by necessity or by circumstance, and therefore, write about those experiences.” She goes on to chide that the archetype of the stranger is a very common one in fiction and poetry, and that many a native has written about the poles of alienation and assimilation. The gentle reminder in both Lahiri’s interview and her writing is that while she may set some of her scenes in India, her themes are universal.
The Lowland has been billed as a story about two brothers, but it could easily be the story of ideology, and how it shapes family. The early years of the two boys in question—decent, studious Subhash and charismatic, unpredictable Udayan—were written with a hint of sepia about them, the nostalgia for a time so past that it never felt very real. The descriptions of the world the boys were born into were vivid without catering to our thirst for the exotic; the characters here are middle-class, living in a quiet subdivision, focused on thick textbooks and transistor radios, on sneaking into the club for foreigners right outside their doors. As the boys grow older and their interests take different paths, changing the lives of everyone around them, we see India fade into the background and the bleak solitude of New England academia takes over.