Monday, May 6, 2013


You've written a lot this week; is there anything left for you to practice/improve over the weekend?  Do you need to practice more multiple choice?  Take inventory-- one last time-- and describe how you will address any areas where you feel less than 100% confident.

For me, the thing I need to improve on is Prose Essay Prompts, the reason being that the connections the AP Board wants me to find seem rather flimsy and at times, half-baked. Other things, like multiple choice or open essay questions, I have down pat. Poetry might cause a little struggle, but I think is rather do-able, especially when it comes to compare and contrast. But Prose, that might be my Achilles Heel. Meaning that will be the thing I have to work on before the AP Exam.

Streets Essay

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Question 3

"The world, that understandable and lawful world, was slipping away." - Lord of the Flies
The story of Lord of the Flies opens up with a group of tweenish English boys stranded on a deserted island. They try to form an upstanding society because "...We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages. We're English, and the English are best at everything.'" However, the longer they spend on the island, they more they degenerate into savagery and start losing what made them human. This is most evident on Jack and Roger, two kids who become so enamored with power and blood-lust they become a shell of who they used to be. This all plays into the hands of William Golding, who used this novel as an allegory of what falls when society breaks down and all hell breaks loose.

Within Lord of the Flies, there are many kids, each who represent a different part of society. Ralph represents morality and the social compass. Piggy represents science. Simon represents religion. Jack represents anarchy. Roger represents chaos and blood-lust. And the conch represents democracy. At first, all seems well. The kids are working together, and there is an organized form of government. However, things start to degenerate right from the start. With no form of supervision, kids start doing less and less work due to boredom and knowing they can get away with it. Jack, in his jealousy over Ralph's popularity, keeps trying to usurp Ralph but failing. The kids start developing paranoia about the island, thinking there's a beast that is tracking them. Jack and his hunting group become more and more brutal in their way of hunting, culminating in their brutish killing of Simon and Roger dropping a boulder on Piggy. Eventually, Jack tortures the rest to go on a manhunt for Ralph, effectively setting fire to the entire island in the process. This all culminates into the kids running into the ship captain, with each kid realizing how much innocence they had lost in the process.

This all naturally plays into the hands of William Golding, who wanted to create an allegory about the fall of society. The conch, a symbol of democracy, becomes nothing when others refuse to give it meaning. Religion, like Simon, is quick to follow suit of the conch. Knowledge, much like Piggy, will be accepted when it is useful, denied when not in use, and then eliminated when it goes against the status quo. Morality, much like Ralph, will hold out as long as it can, but eventually it will be so minuscule compared to the savagery and brutality of everyone else. Eventually, the savagery will try to eliminate the morality once and for all, leaving a destructive path in its wake. If society is left to its own supervision, then paranoia and mistrust will set in, creating a dog-eat-dog world where nobody wins and everybody loses.

With Lord of the Flies, William Golding is able to create an effective allegory about the fall of society, while also making it accessible to younger audiences. By using an abandoned island as his setting, he is able provide another allegory to also fit his message, one that makes sense entirely. All of which allows him to create an effective story about he fall of man.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

1999 English Literature Question 3

Sometimes the hardest choices in life are not the ones with definite outcomes, but ones of grey morality with the outcome undefined. Sometimes there won't be a right  or an easy decision, only ones underlined by gray morality. This concept, of having to choose between outcomes that are not so defined and black-and-white, is one fully explored in Fallout: New Vegas. This in turn helps illuminate the central message of the story, that society isn't as black-and-white as many stories portray them to be, but rather one of fifty shades of gray. That, as compared to stories like Macbeth or Lord of the Rings, there isn't a clear "good-and-evil" side, there isn't a clear dichotonomy between what is right and what is wrong. Rather, it is us who interpret whether things are good or bad, even if they are inherently gray.

The story opens up with the main character, referred to only as "The Courier", being shot by a mysterious man who introduces himself as Benny. After waking up and healing from his wounds, the Courier then, after receiving information about the whereabouts of Benny, travels to New Vegas to confront him and re-take the chip he was carrying. While at New Vegas, the Courier quickly becomes the centerpiece of a power struggle over the city of New Vegas and Hoover Dam, the main supplier of power in the entire Mojave region. That power struggle is represented by four main groups with many sub-groups. The NCR is a democratic government filled with great intentions and promising leaders, while also suffering from corruption, "big bully syndrome" and growing too fast too quickly. Caesar's Legion is a group of formed by one dictator that, while degenerative towards woman and technology, also has a reputation of keeping its people safe along with zero corruption. The House is the current owner of New Vegas and advocates somewhat of a two-faced approach: while he advocates for freedom of choice, and as such apposes both the NCR and Caesar, he also rules with an iron fist over Vegas. and controls the money and electric supply. Then there's the Wild Card option, where the Courier can take over Vegas and rule it as he sees fit, completely screwing the other groups in the process. This leads to the Courier having to play tug-of-war with three other factions all the while having to decide if what he wants is truly what is best for New Vegas. All the while there are mini-groups, like the Boomers (xenophobic hoarders of technology), Brotherhood of Steel (xenophobic hoarders who have a superiority complex), Great Khans (a raiding warrior group) and Kings (freedom fighters) who are fighting for a small piece of the pie.

This all naturally plays into the hands of the writer, Chris Avellone, who wanted to explore the grayness of society, and not some fanciful version where it's black-and-white. Society, as he views it, is one filled of factionalism. And there isn't a clear distinction between "good-and-evil". While we like to create this version of things either being saintly good or kill-the-baby-bad, in reality things are much more gray, which is what is thoroughly explored in Fallout: New Vegas. There is no real right or wrong choice, it's all dependent on perspective.  There are always two sides to every coin, something that many works of literature tend to forget/gloss over. This is what really pulls at the Courier, that he has four options, all of them equally valid. And each decision has major ramifications for the fate of the parties involved. People aren't going to like his decision regardless, but that's life. Sometimes you have take a stand for what you believe for, and not what others want you to believe.

All these themes are masterfully crafted and woven all into the narrative by Chris Avellone. Throughout Fallout: New Vegas, he constantly brings about different ideologies that reflect on the different natures of society, all the while emphasizing that society is not black-and-white. Rather, it is conglomerate of varying beliefs and viewpoints, with none of them inherently wrong. While we like to simplify things as either right or wrong, in reality, that isn't true. It's all a matter of what you personally believe, which is what Chris Avellone was trying to emphasize the entire time.