First JOURNAL due Monday, Sept. 22

Your JOURNAL Reflects You

Your journal should include:
--Childhood Reflection with Photo; the reflection must end with an INSIGHT about life.
--WSJ: "How Important Is a Good Memory?" Your Critical Reaction; join the conversation!
--NYT: "Don't Dismiss the Humanities" What is Kristof's argument; defend, challenge, qualify
--"Song of the Sky Loom" notes; Critical Reaction to the message of this poem
--"Choose Something Like a Star"--notes and your analytical paragraph about the poem
SUGGESTION:  Find out more about Robert Frost!  What does his grave stone say?
--Notes on Hope Leslie and Catharine Maria Sedgwick
--Notes from class
--My Place at the Table (tell about your family background; how did your ancestors come to America?  Or, if you are a recent immigrant, tell your personal journey to America.)  This is in response to the video "Place at the Table."
--SUGGESTION:  Look up the Langston Hughes poem, "I, Too, Sing America" and match it with ideas from the video "Place at the Table."

Add your own INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY to your journal by doing mini-research quests on anything that intrigues you.

Be a SCHOLAR, not just a good student!

RHETORIC--Unforgettable, Inspiring Language!

What is RHETORIC? Convincing language that carries lasting power. Good rhetoric elicits an emotional response from the reader or listener. Rhetoric is words used effectively-- in a powerful way to challenge, to refute, to reason and argue, to persuade—and most of all—to inspire.

The Power of  Great Rhetoric

Consider the rhetorical strategies, the use of parallelism, repetition, antithesis, rich imagery with emotional appeal, in the examples below.

We have a place, all of us, in a long story—a story we continue, but whose end we will not see. It is the story of a new world that became a friend and liberator of the old, a story of a slave-holding society that became a servant of freedom, the story of a power that went into the world to protect but not possess, to defend but not to conquer.”
--2001 Inaugural Address of George W. Bush

The above sentence is a historical summary, but it is made eloquent by repetition of "a story" and meaningful by juxtaposing opposing ideas (antithesis), careful parallel phrasing, and the use of words with noble connotations.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
--1961 Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy

The above sentence which opens with a dramatic antithesis (well or ill) is not just a list—but a pledge, a promise. The use of simple verbs such as pay, bear, meet, support, oppose gives each short phrase great punch. But the direct objects that follow these action verbs show tremendous courage and determination: price, burden, hardship, friend, foe. The final phrase sings out the strong commitment to liberty and democracy during the Cold War struggle. Parallel structure keeps all these ideas lined up and clear--resulting in a very powerful, unforgettable statement.

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
-- Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, 1865

Abraham Lincoln provides a magnificent example of antithesis--opposing ideas placed side by side--in his opening phrase.  Malice is the opposite of charity, or love. None and all are direct opposites. These striking juxtapositions make clear Lincoln's point:  Americans must unite in love and blame no one for this war. Lincoln is also a master of parallel structure, of metaphors, and rich imagery. Each phrase is a carefully chiseled syntactical masterpiece. He portrays the nation as a wounded soldier in need of healing and consolation for loss. The words "widow" and "orphan" convey the deep tragedies being felt by both sides in the Civil War.

Repetition and Syntax“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
--1933 Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Simplicity. Syntax is the key to this phrase’s power. The positive statement— is underscored by the repetition of “fear itself.” This phrase became famous not just because of syntactical simplicity, but because it embodies the spirit of confidence and the candid truth that fear can traumatize people so they do not think clearly and take wise actions. (Remember that in 1933, the depths of the Depression, one quarter of Americans were in danger of starvation.)

Good rhetoric is about saying something in the strongest way possible. Consider this phrase: My fellow Americans, don’t ask what is my country going to do to help me? You should ask, instead, what can I do to help my country?

The above words are clumsy. They are not compelling or noble or even memorable.  But, look at the following famous line:

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”John F. Kennedy, 1961

This famous line uses a reversed syntax, sometimes called antimetabole, a clever grammatical structure in which the first clause or phrase is followed by a clause or phrase that is reversed, often repeating the same words. Kennedy’s words became unforgettable, not just because they carried great meaning, but because the idea was presented with powerful syntax.


"Please," said the frustrated teacher, "place commas and periods INSIDE the quotation marks."


 For the first entry in your journal, you are going to focus on a topic you know quite a bit about--YOU! I want you to go home, and with your mother's permission, find a photo of yourself as a child. Choose carefully. Find a photo in which you have a CLEAR MEMORY of what is happening at that precise moment. You can never be that child in that moment again. Now you are a teen, looking back on that moment. (Ideally, you find a photo of yourself between 5 and 10 years old.)

You must analyze the photo carefully. Consider every detail. Think back. REFLECT. What was going through your mind at that moment. What were you thinking? Feeling? Were you upset? Were you overjoyed? Were you confused? Did you feel secure? Misunderstood? Grateful. Doubtful?

It is important that you examine carefully your memory. You are using this photo to trigger your memory of a MOMENT. Then you must reflect upon that moment to find a great truth about life. An INSIGHT.
When you write your Reflection in your journal, compose it very carefully. Do not slop something down carelessly and simply say: Here I am at age 6, eating an ice cream cone, which is melting and making a big mess. Go much deeper. Bring in the emotions. Look at the examples.

Make this Reflection a fine piece of writing. You are describing the photo in detail, but you are also describing the interior of your heart and mind at that moment. You may type this assignment if you wish and glue it neatly into your Journal. The photo itself may be a color copy rather than the original photo. Be sure you have your mother's permissioin to use this photo. Don't upset her family album by tearing out a picture.
Your photo should be on the FIRST PAGE of your Journal. Above or below the PHOTO should be a ONE WORD title such as


Gripping the rope halter confidently, I stand with my 4-H Club calf near the Shelbina sale barn in late August. I'm eight and about to start the third grade after a summer of showing calves at county fairs. The smell of cattle, straw and manure hangs in the air. The auctioneer's loud lilting prattle rises and falls behind me. This summer has been my first time to show calves. It is fun and exciting especially when an 800-pound steer goes beserk in the middle of the ring. The noise and commotion confuse my calf, making him skittish. He drools a white lather and pants in anxiety. I worry that he will suddenly bolt and embarrass me by getting away.

But, my real worry is what is going to happen to George, this big red Hereford steer, who has trusted me since last fall to feed him, groom him, and try to teach him how to behave in the show ring. He was not always cooperative; in fact, he sank to his knees because he was tired in his first show, coming in dead last for his poor performance. It is finally sinking in to my na├»ve brain what my older brother meant when he said, "George and Butch are going to be hamburger one day." (His calf is named Butch and mine is George.) The thought of George being slaughtered is something I can't quite grasp, but this sale barn experience-- the auction--is suddenly making everything clear to me.

A horrible sense of helplessness is starting to engulf me. I feel I have deceived my pet calf. He's been my 4-H project, and now I am letting something awful happen to him. To sell him, to make money from him, and know he is going to be butchered feels dishonest. I am a traitor. After the auction, I will ride home in silence, not at all jubilant that George topped the sale (because of his size) and started my college fund.

Looking back on this painful realization, I see how betraying the trust of someone can happen in the confusion and complexity of human drama--not just a child and a pet. Throughout life, literature and history, we see betrayal in a thousand deceptions large and small.  Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Brutus joined with other senators to slay Julius Caesar, inflicting the "unkindest cut of all" --because Brutus was supposed to have been Caesar's trusted friend. Everyday, on the grid of the daily grind, friends stab friends in the back with little comments that reflect petty jealousies and vain insecurities. Perhaps we remain little children all our lives, confused by the swirling events around us, grubby and greedy, easily frightened, and too often lacking the moral courage to buck the tide that pulls us toward the low road instead of the high road, the easy rather than the difficult, the simple rather than the complex. Perhaps I should have called this reflection Deception.  We tarnish our relationships by committing small deceptions, and yet we all wish for love and forgiveness. It is humbling to think of human frailty in this light. That is why I seek the Divine for help.

HOPE LESLIE or, Early Times in the Massachusetts by Catharine Maria Sedgwick

To read this book online, be sure to start with Volume I, which can be accessed with this link

In her Preface to the novel, Catharine Maria Sedgwick writes of Native Americans:

"The Indians of North America are, perhaps, the only race of men of whom it may be said, that though conquered, they were never enslaved. They could not submit, and live. When made captives, they courted death, and exulted in torture. These traits of their character will be viewed by an impartial observer, in a light very different from that in which they were regarded by our ancestors. In our histories, it was perhaps natural that they should be represented as "surly dogs," who preferred to die rather than live, from no other motives than a stupid or malignant obstinacy. Their own historians or poets, if they had such, would as naturally, and with more justice, have extolled their high-souled courage and patriotism."

CHARACTERSHOPE LESLIE or, Early Times in the Massachusetts is historical fiction. Three historical figures do appear in this novel. You must know John Winthrop, the famous Puritan leader who said "We shall be as a City upon a hill..." and led the famous 1630 Puritan migration to Massachusetts Bay Colony; another character is Puritan heretic Samuel Gorton, and finally, the Pequot Indian Mononotto is a real historical figure just as the Pequod War was an early Massachusetts massacre in which captured native American children were used as slaves by the Puritans.

William Fletcher – loves his cousin Alice, but her father (Sir William Fletcher, the uncle of youngWilliam) refuses to let Alice leave the Church of England and marry William who is a follower of the radical religious group called the Puritans; he sets sail for Massachusetts with John Winthrop on the famous 1630 voyage on the Arabella. William is progressive, tolerant, and uncomfortable with the Puritans’ strict ways. He moves his family away from Boston to have freedom from the Puritan strictness.

Martha Fletcher—“an orphan girl, a ward of Mr. Winthrop” with “all the meek graces that befitted a godly maiden and dutiful helpmate” becomes the wife of William Fletcher.  Their son is Everell.  She eventually helps raise Hope and Faith Leslie, the daughter of Alice (William’s true love). She is unbelievably submissive, a virtual doormat.

Alice—beautiful! She loves William Fletcher back in England but is forbidden to marry him and forced to marry Charles Leslie. She is the mother of Hope and Faith Leslie. After her husband dies, she sets out for Massachusetts with her two teenage daughters but Alice dies on the ship.

Hope Leslie—bold and beautiful, she cleverly challenges the strict repressive Puritan system and works for justice for the Indians and independence for women. She is the daughter of Alice and Charles Leslie, and sister of Faith. Eventually marries Everell Fletcher.

Faith Leslie- daughter of Alice and Charles Leslie, sister of Hope. Later enters into an interracial marriage with Oneco, the Pequot; as a Puritan, she further rebels by becoming a Catholic; she becomes so acculturated into her husband’s tribe that she no longer speaks English.

Magawisca—often referred to as a Pequot princess, she is Chief Mononotto's daughter, sister of Oneco and Samoset, and becomes a slave or servant without pay to the Fletchers after the Pequod War; she is remarkable for her beauty, high intellect and noble character; she saves Everell’s life and loses her own arm.

Oneco-- Chief Mononotto's son, brother of Magawisca and Samoset, enslaved/servant of the Fletcher's, later marries Faith Leslie.

Chief Mononotto- Chief of the Pequot, wants revenge for the beheading of his son Samoset in the Pequod War and the enslavement of his other two children, Magawisca and Oneco.

Everell—handsome, heroic and progressive in his thinking about women’s place in society and how the white man should treat Native Americans. He seems to be a perfect match for Magawisca who saves his life, but he is engaged to Esther, the perfect Puritan girl.  However, he ditches her and marries Hope Leslie.

Digby—old soldier,  guard of the Fletcher home who expresses views of the older Puritan generation, very close with Everell and eventually Hope Leslie.

Cradock- Hope's tutor. She is his superior intellectually, however. (In this novel, Sedgwick makes women intellectually equal or superior to mean.)

Nelema—Native American who despises the whites because of their mistreatment of her people. She is believed to be a witch by most Puritans; she uses her medical skills as a healer of both natives and whites.

John Winthrop—Historically, the Puritan religious leader who gave the famous “City on a hill” speech on the Arabella, and the founder of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Diplomatic towards the Native Americans, he is also skeptical and suspicious. In this story, he opens his home to Hope Leslie after Martha Fletcher is killed.

Esther Drowning- the niece of Mr. Winthrop, becomes part of a love triangle between her good friend Hope Leslie and her crush, Everell Fletcher.

Sir Philip Gardiner--"corrupt seducer" of Hope Leslie, royalist trying to subvert the Puritans' community

Roslin/Rosa- page of Sir Philip Gardiner, dressed as a man when first introduced and then revealed as a woman, an old lover of Sir Philip's

Mr. Gorton- known as a Puritan Heretic

Mrs. Grafton - Aunt of Hope and Faith Leslie, materialistic, fashionable, devout Anglican who, in contrast with the Puritans, clings to her book of Common Prayers. 

Afghanistan--A Model of Reflection on a Photo

From Lieutenant Colonel Keith Wilson

(soldier kneeling behind the boys),
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

The little boy on the bottom left came up to share what amounted to a potato chip with me...I felt somewhat guilty because the size of the chip was rather large and I didn't want to eat the whole thing, so I broke a small piece off and attempted to give it back but he wouldn't take it (for many Afghans they will give the best to their guests and are often very hospitable). I took a bite and demonstrated how delicious it was by smiling and rubbing my stomach!

The next thing I knew I was surrounded by kids all grabbing pieces of the chip....I played like I had no idea what was happening and was overwhelmed which caused them to laugh hysterically....eventually I had a small little piece of the chip remaining and was staring at it in awe when a dirty little hand reached in and grabbed it away. I laughed with all the kids and one of them walked up and held a small piece to my mouth for me to eat. It was such a neat sign of generosity and kindness in kids who have so very little.

I have come to love the kids of Afghanistan. In a country that has known war non-stop for the past three decades and more often than not for the last number of centuries, these kids represent hope for a better future. Driving around you can't help but see little kids, covered in dirt, with little in the way of clothing, but who are as happy as can be splashing in water we wouldn't let our kids be caught anywhere near. They have kites that are literally made of fishing line, twigs, and scrap paper but they're prized possessions to those who have them. 

They are just like American kids. You'll see them with a rock, a string, and a stick and the next thing you know they're a mighty warrior or a fisherman or an artist or a shepherd. Their imagination is just as vivid and creative as a kid from New York, a kid from Los Angeles, or a kid from Conroe, TX. They are the true hope and inspiration in a country where those often seem forlorn.
They're just kids.