Words from Freshmen
Spring 2019, Volume I, Issue 1
In the fall of 2018, the Honors English 1101 class undertook to create a publication of their essays. One goal was to publish essays that successfully illustrated certain types of writing; another goal was to publish an essay by every class member, though all agreed that no one would be guaranteed a spot. The process for this publication replicated the process for publishing an essay in a peer-reviewed journal. The essays were self-nominated—in other words, submitted. The essays were then subjected to a form of blind (anonymous) peer review: those who were not in the running for a certain category voted for their choices of the best work in that category, with the author for each essay unidentified at that point. An exception to the “blind” was the last category for the semester, the classification essay, for which the voting was not blind (because of lack of time). Once students had made their choices (using a proportional voting scheme), the students were assigned to copy edit the essays. These were essays that had been written in class (for assignments of gradually increasing formality) and subsequently revised except, again, for the classification essay, which was written outside of class. Finally, the teacher acted as editor-in-chief, applying many of the students’ recommended edits and doing some additional light editing.
The result is, in effect, a student peer-reviewed publication. Student Ashley Mars suggested the title Words for Freshmen, and her classmates endorsed the choice. All those who contributed hope that this will be the first of many issues.
Editorial Staff and Class Members
Editor and Professor
Rhonda V. Wilcox, Ph.D.
Personal Narratives: Informal Self-Expression
Not My Day
By Jeb Breeding
Have you ever had a day that was supposed to be special but went horribly wrong? This is exactly what happened to me this Labor Day. Labor Day was the first holiday I had since going to college, and I was looking forward to being able to stay home another day before driving back to Barnesville for the school week. Unfortunately, Labor Day proved to be just that for me and my family, as we worked and sweated in the humid summer air all day. The cause of our predicament may seem unusual to many readers, but to us he was an everyday concern: a cow.
The cow in question was a steer, a castrated male calf who was nearly full grown, and whose only purpose in life was to become beef. We had separated him and two other steers from our herd, loaded them into a cattle trailer, and hauled them home without incident. On Sunday night, they stood together serenely in the corral and ate sweet feed, having been exhausted by their journey, and we, likewise exhausted, went to bed.
The trouble began at 12:01 A.M. Monday morning, when I was awakened by the sound of our dog barking. When he had barked for several minutes without ceasing, I got up and went outside, flashlight in hand to see what he wanted. To my astonishment, the dog was chasing a steer around our yard! I quickly yelled inside the door to Mom and Dad, telling them that a steer was out, then went out into the yard to find out what had happened. Sure enough, one quick look at the corral revealed a squashed and broken fence and three missing steers. When Dad arrived, having hastily thrown on his work clothes, we headed off across the yard to find and round up the steers. We soon discovered that two of the steers had only escaped the corral but remained inside the fenced pasture, and only one, the largest, had jumped completely out of the enclosure. He was running back and forth along the fence, bellowing mournfully and attempting to rejoin his fellows, but could not find the break in the fence. We drove him along the fence, opened the gate, and managed to run him back into the enclosure, then went wearily back to bed.
The next morning, I was again jolted from sleep by a loud noise, this time not a dog but my mother, who was yelling, “Wake up! We've got trouble!” Knowing exactly what she meant without her needing to say it, I grabbed my boots and ran outside. “The steers usually get out the first night,” I thought to myself while recalling similar incidents in past years. “It's almost by accident, because they don't know their own strength, and run over a fence in the dark before realizing that they shouldn't cross it. But for one to escape twice in one day is a lot of trouble.” Then I rounded the corner of the house, and a scene of distant pandemonium met my eyes, so that as I ran I almost laughed.
At the end of our driveway, my dad was having a sort of standoff with the steer, trying to prevent it from running into the road. I saw immediately why the steer was attempting such a dangerous maneuver, as a section of broken fence along the roadside marked his egress, and he was desperately trying to reach it and regain entry to the pasture. My mom was alternately trying to help Dad to keep the steer away from the road and waving at passing cars to slow down and avoid hitting the steer if he was to get past them. Our dog was running around the steer, barking and snapping, further agitating the six-hundred pound animal and generally adding to the chaos.
After several failed attempts and near disasters, we finally caught the steer and returned him to the corral. Mom went to restart the process of cooking breakfast (the biscuits and bacon had burned while she was outside helping us) and brought sandwiches out to me and Dad while we worked feverishly on the fence. I soon regretted my haste earlier, as my pajama shorts left my legs exposed to barbed wire and thorns, and they were soon covered in bruises and scratches. During a lull in the work, I went inside to change into my work pants, then returned to help Dad add boards and barbed wire to the top of the corral fence, hoping to deter any more escape attempts. Our efforts were to no avail, however, for as soon as we moved our tools to another section of broken fence, we were brought running back to the corral by a scream from my little sister. She had been passing by the corral to come see us, but was just in time to see the steer make a spectacular leap at the now six-foot high fence, breaking it and nearly getting through before falling back into the corral. In frustration, we loaded the steer back into our solid-steel cattle trailer, then set to work re-repairing the broken fence. When we had finally finished, we sat down and discussed what we should do with the destructive steer. I was for eating him then, fat or thin, but Dad said we would have to take him back to the herd and sell him later.
Our problems with this steer had several causes, including his breeding and his social standing in the herd. Besides being the largest of the three steers that were his age, he was not purely from the Black Angus breed of cattle, but was part Texas Longhorn, a thinner and wilder breed than the generally placid Angus. He had inherited the black color and natural lack of horns of his Angus mother, but had also been given the size and temperament of his Longhorn father. In addition to these aggravating thoughts, which I pondered as we hauled the steer back to the herd, was the fact that the steer belonged, not to Dad, but to me. He was my first cow, bought from another small farmer as a calf, while Dad had simultaneously purchased his mother. Our plan was to to fatten him and butcher him along with two of the other steers from our herd, then sell his meat to friends of ours and split the profit (Dad having paid for the cow feed and hay required to fatten him up). This would make each of us a sizable profit, and I hoped that I could use the money to buy two more calves, starting the process over again and growing both the profit I made and my own cattle herd. However, he was worth far less as a live, unfattened steer, and selling him as such would make only a fraction of the money that we could have made otherwise, although it still represented some profit.
My First True Concert
By Jackson Howell
For many people, the experience of going to your first concert is a rite of passage. Whether it be rap music, a metal concert, or any other type of music under the sun, your first concert is always a special event. My first concert was really no different from any other person’s. My parents took me and a friend, it was held at a football stadium (Bobby Dodd in Atlanta, to be precise), and there were a lot (and I mean a lot) of people there—pretty typical stuff for a concert in the grand scheme of things. That is all well and good, but the thing that set my first concert apart was the band which was playing. It wasn’t just some obscure random indie band that I saw for my first concert—it was the freaking Rolling Stones!
To really understand why this is so important to me, we need to flash back a little bit. Throughout my childhood, my parents would always play music from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s because that is when they grew up. I would have bands I associated with each of my parents; we would sort of share them. For my dad and me, we had The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. But for my mom it would be—you guessed it—the Rolling Stones. So this concert had a lot of meaning and a lot of memories behind it.
We start off the story about to arrive at the stadium, having already picked up my friend Izzy and dressed in our red and black ZIP Code tour shirts. My dad still worked at the Department of Transportation at that point, so we parked at the DOT offices up near the stadium, which in Atlanta distance is really close (they are not even a third of a mile away from each other). After we parked, we walked to the Varsity to go through the tunnel that leads to the stadium; I knew the way because I had been to so many Tech games previously—it would be no trouble. Boy, was I wrong. I had never seen so many people wearing red and black at Bobby Dodd without a football- and alcohol-fueled fight breaking out. There was an ungodly number of people, which in hindsight I probably should have expected. But besides the crowd and the queue, we got in just fine (all things considered).
By the time we actually got into the stadium and to the right gate, the opening acts had started to play, and we began to quicken our pace. Thankfully, we got to our seats in time before the last opener finished. Finally, after so much time, the Stones came out. First out was drummer Charlie Watts; then came bassist Ronnie Wood; next was the legend, guitarist Keith Richards; then finally, the one and only Mick Jagger ran on stage. Their first song was “Start Me Up,” which instantly got the whole stadium on their feet; I had never seen anything like it. Then immediately they moved on to “It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.” There is really nothing else like listening to thousands of people sing along to something you grew up listening to. Next the band did introductions. Watts was dressed comfortably (as most drummers are), Wood had on a sort of blue-ish blazer and glaringly colorful shirt, Richards was more modest with just a black button up shirt and green vest, while ol’ Jagger had on this god-awful frilly red shirt that only he could really pull off. It is amazing to see a horde of skinny little skeleton men like Jagger and the rest dance and run around on stage.
There may have also been a little something or other being passed around (wink wink). Of course, being the innocent boy that I was—I did not partake. My mom’s watchful gaze probably discouraged me more than anything, to be honest. I’ll just choose to leave my dad out of this paragraph—take that as you will. It was also the first time I had been exposed to that kind of thing in person; it was interesting, to say the least.
So yeah, that was my first concert. As far as firsts go, it was a pretty good one if I must say so myself. It was not only a good experience in and of itself, but it was also reinforced by years of childhood memories of listening to this music. I also got to see people pass around illicit substances not two feet away from me. It was pretty great.
The Worst Beginning of a Celebration
By Ashley Mars
Have you ever felt so disrespected that you became bitter and wicked? Most people would say that is not my usual reaction, that I am a pushover. I will stick to my morals; otherwise I go with the flow—but not this time.
This past fourth of July, when I was nineteen, we celebrated at my house. We have a pool, a large yard, and a house that fits my entire family of sixty or so people. Some of my younger cousins had asked if they could spend the night before the celebration. Even my best friend spent the night with me. Junior, one of the eldest kids, helped my mom in the kitchen; while my best friend and I took the rest of the kids outside to decorate. We put out tables with blue and red table clothes, hung up patriotic banners, and set up citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes away.
Just as we finished everything up, people began to arrive. Junior came outside, and so did my mom, to greet people. After my mom greeted all of our guests, she began to go back inside.
Before I continue, I must say that I love my family. We are all very close, and I could not bear to go on in life and leave any of them behind. That being said, there is one person that comes to every family gathering that is neither related to me, nor anyone else at our get-togethers. For the sake of anonymity, we will call her Becky.
Becky has two kids; both are the children of my cousin’s husband J.R. To make that easier to understand, he had an affair and now his mistress lives with them (that is Becky). Becky is not a tall woman. She’s actually quite short. Her hair is curled, even though it makes her look even more overweight than she actually is. Becky is not skinny, nor is she particularly pretty. She has a nasty attitude and always thinks she is better than everyone else.
Now back to our story. Becky, my cousin, and I followed my mom inside. Junior began to join us, but Becky growled at him, “Go watch your sister!” In an attempt to keep things calm, and to defend my blood relative, I mentioned how he had assisted my mom earlier in the day. I guess that Becky did not like that I was, in a way, standing up for him. Her immediate turn-around was a demand for respect.
At this point, I was still very calm. It was not until she called me a child that I got angry.
As we walked inside, Becky stomped through my house. “Don’t tell me how to raise my children,” she commanded.
“I wasn’t trying to. I was only saying that he was helping my mom with the food.” I held my hands in front of me, as a show of calm.
Becky walked further in, still angry. “I don’t need a child talking down to me.” Her head whipped back to me, fire in her eyes. “You’re just a child”—she sure sounded like one—“and you better start being respectful or I’ll…”
I stopped her with a sharp raise of my hand. “Or you’ll what? Are you going to go whine to J.R.?” Becky huffed and stormed towards me.
“Do I need to whoop you? You’re not too old.” She glared at me, and at this point my best friend, Dyamond, stepped between us. Becky bristled and said, “I’ll beat you, and you’ll be sorry.”
My hair was on end, and I was ready to pounce. Never in my life had I wanted to fight someone so badly. I’d had enough of her. “It won’t be a fair fight, for you,” I scoffed. Becky tried to lunge for me, but a few family members had heard the ruckus and had come to check it out. They ended up holding her back from me, and my best friend guided me away.
As soon as they let Becky go, she stormed outside and to the one man that would possibly care, J.R. He and I have never been the best of friends, but I knew that he was on my side when I heard him tell her to “shut up and apologize.”
Becky did apologize, and I did accept it. There are so many things to hate her for, what’s one compared to a dozen?
By Jamie Ryder
There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and it’s amazing how just five short seconds can change everything. Out of all the seconds, minutes, and hours I’ve experienced, only five have been the most important. One second later or earlier could have prevented my accident from happening.
It was the Saturday of the annual Concord Jubilee, which is a festival that is held in the City of Concord for a weekend during October, and because I was a member of the marching band, I was required to attend. I had made plans the night before to meet at my best friend Mackenzie’s house early that morning to pick her up to get breakfast at McDonald’s before we went to the parade. The morning started out the same as every other morning. I woke up, got dressed, and then I headed to Mackenzie’s house.
The air conditioner in my truck hadn’t worked for some time, so I had the windows down. The Zebulon square was crowded because, like every year before, the football team was selling donuts on the square. It was loud as I pulled up to an intersection I've driven through a countless number of times. I waited for the light to turn from red to green, and while I was waiting, I noticed a small family in the car behind me, a mom and what looked like two young kids. All I could think when I saw them was, “why is a kid that small sitting in the passenger seat?” Eventually the light turned green, and I began to proceed through the intersection when suddenly everything went dark and quiet.
Before I noticed my eyes were closed, I reached for the radio because I did not like the quiet. When the radio did not turn on, I slowly opened my eyes. Everything was white, and that’s all I could see. It wasn’t until I calmed down that I realized that the white I saw was just the airbag in my face. The smell of the airbag was unbearable, resembling burnt popcorn. At that moment I realized I had been in an accident. I tried to look out any window to see where I was or what had happened. Nothing I saw made sense until it clicked in my brain that I was upside down.
I reached down for my seat belt and unlatched it. Falling onto what was left of the roof of my car, I began to crawl through my window, which was still open. It must have been extremely loud with all the people talking and the police sirens yelling, but I heard none of it. After emerging from the small opening, I looked over my shoulder and saw the mess behind me for the first time. There was glass scattered everywhere and the dust was still settling, but it was abundantly clear what had happened. As I proceeded through the intersection, another vehicle had flown over the hill and without noticing his light was red, he ran straight into my passenger side door. This caused my F-150 to flip over.
Many thoughts ran through my mind at this time, but it all led to this one thought: “at least it wasn’t them.” The family that had been behind me would have lost their little child if it hadn’t been me that had been hit. I walked away from that accident with a minor scratch on my left elbow and one heck of a headache, but if I had either been a second earlier of later to the intersection, it would have been them instead of me, and some of them wouldn’t have walked away.
Expository Essays: Informative Writing Based on Personal Expertise
Hunting: The Working Man's Sport
By Jeb Breeding
For thousands of years, mankind has hunted many of the world's animals, utilizing them as a resource for food, clothing, shelter, and tools. In the modern world, civilization has largely eliminated hunting as a necessary skill for survival, replacing the materials once taken from wild animals with the products of agriculture and industry. However, hunting endures in nearly every culture as a sport and a way to acquire “free” food from the wild. Hunting also provides an abundance of opportunities to learn, as it demands competence in a wide range of physical and mental skills, all of which must be mastered in order for a person to become a successful hunter. One of the most iconic and widespread forms of hunting is the pursuit of whitetail deer, which are found throughout the continental United States and lower Canada. Deer hunting requires a serious investment of time and effort, as hunters must prepare themselves and their gear for the hunt, learn to find and outwit their quarry, then dispatch the animal and properly render it into usable products.
The first step to hunting is to read local regulations, learning what permits, licenses, and tags are needed to hunt in a particular state and area. In many areas of the U.S, whitetail deer are abundant and regulations are easy to navigate, and most states have generous seasons and bag limits, requiring only a hunting license and game tag. Once hunters have acquired and completed the necessary legal paperwork, they still have much work to do before hunting season. They must choose an area of land to hunt, arrange transport there, decide on a legal and appropriate weapon, and practice with it until they can use it well. Hunters must also choose appropriate hunting clothes and gear, as deer season takes place in weather ranging from chilly to extremely cold, and the lack of proper equipment and warm clothing can lead to misery and failure when hunting. All this work may take months, depending on the difficulty and circumstances of each step. Even then, the hunter's preparation work is not done, as there are many optional tasks that can be undertaken to improve the odds of a successful hunt. These tasks may include scouting the area to observe the movement of game, choosing a particular spot as the most likely place to ambush the animal, constructing or placing a concealing structure (known as a “blind” when placed on the ground or a “stand” when elevated) at the chosen spot, and even growing crops in the area, which will act as bait by attracting deer with the prospect of an easy meal. Depending on the circumstances, hunters may undertake all or none of these projects as they wait for hunting season to begin.
Finally, the day of the hunt arrives, and the hunter makes the first attempt at finding and dispatching the quarry. Many, unsurprisingly, fail. All the preparation in the world cannot always bring a wild animal onto the dinner table. Only through patience and skill can a hunter achieve their goal, and these traits can only be learned through trial and error, or with an experienced teacher. The skills and knowledge necessary to hunt well do not come easily, and as with any other sport, the best way to improve is to practice. The first year that I was deemed old enough to go deer hunting by my dad, I spent hours fidgeting impatiently in a blind, expecting deer to appear before me the second I got there. After several unsuccessful hunts, my dad was able to help me shoot my first buck, and each year after that he tested me further and gave me more responsibility, until I was able to go hunting entirely by myself. After many attempts and hours of reading, I learned how to sit quietly for long periods of time while remaining alert and watching, how to react quickly but purposefully when a deer unexpectedly appeared (as they always do), and that the best way to stay undetected by deer is to stay downwind of them, as they instantly recognize the smell of a human and retreat from it. These small details, along with lots of work, helped me to fine-tune my hunting strategies, until I became competent at hunting under most circumstances. Once all the basic skills have been mastered, a hunter only lacks a small dose of good luck to get the awaited opportunity.
When a deer finally comes into sight of the hunter, the most important capability in a hunter's skill set comes into play: shooting the deer. In some states, only antlered deer (bucks) may be taken, and in some areas only bucks with a certain antler size may be taken. Therefore, a hunter must quickly size up the deer and decide whether it is legal or not, which can be done at a glance with practice. Many times during my hunting career, I have had to sit and watch a group of does standing around eating, studying each of their heads through my scope for any trace of antlers and hoping that a buck may decide to join them before dark. Once the legality of the deer has been established beyond doubt, the hunter must carefully and expeditiously go about the task of shooting it. The importance of shooting well cannot be stressed enough, as the hunter owes it to the animal to not cause undue suffering by wounding it or prolonging its death in any way. Another concern for the hunter is whether the deer is in a safe location to shoot, as shooting across property lines or toward a person's house or property is extremely dangerous and illegal. When it came time to shoot a deer, I had an excellent streak of luck going, never having to let a deer go due to safety issues or to track a wounded animal more than a hundred yards. Then I got the idea to try hunting with my reproduction Civil War musket in order to take advantage of the extra “primitive weapons” season, one week earlier than regular firearms season. I did shoot one buck with it, but only after missing six deer in a row over the course of several hunts. I tried again this year, only to add two more misses to my frustrating record with the rifle. Afterward, I decided to stop trying to hunt with the musket, and to use it only for other purposes. Even when the hunter lands a well-placed shot on the deer, the hunter must often track it for some distance before finding its body, as even a fatally wounded deer can run hundreds of yards in a few seconds before finally keeling over.
The prestigious gun writer and hunting enthusiast David E. Petzal once said, “When you pull the trigger, the work has just begun.” And boy, was he right. A successful hunter now faces the most difficult and dreaded challenge of all: turning a freshly-dead animal carcass into a pile of palatable meat. The hunter owes it to the animal to waste as little as possible of it, and any hunter who does so may face a fine or arrest, besides the eternal scorn of his fellow hunters. The most arduous task comes immediately after the hunter finds the animal, when it is necessary to decide how to get its body out of the woods and back to civilization. When deer hunting, this job can vary greatly, as whitetail deer range in size from one hundred to three hundred pounds, depending on the area, and may be shot in one's own backyard or far out in the wilderness. The hunter must have a plan in place beforehand as to how to move the carcass, either with a vehicle or by manpower, and must accomplish this immediately after shooting an animal. After bringing the animal home, a hunter may decide to butcher it there, but most deer hunters solicit the aid of a deer cooler, a butcher shop designed specifically for processing wild game. Once again, the hunter must know beforehand where the nearest deer cooler is, how long it will take to get the deer there, and what the owner will charge to process it. After unloading the deer and paying the processing fee, the job is now done, and the hunter may go home to unpack the gear, celebrate success with friends or relatives, and plan the next great hunt.
Throughout the process of hunting, a person will acquire many valuable skills, both of the body and of the mind. At its core, hunting relies on the will to work hard for success, and no part of hunting is easy or quick. People who expect hunting to be easy or are not willing to work for their goal may experience an initial burst of success, but subsequent failures and disappointments often cause them to lose interest in the sport. Throughout my hunting career, I have seen many people who are either poor hunters because they do not put in the practice and work necessary, or choose not to hunt despite their liking of the sport because they cannot invest enough time or effort into it. Only those who have an unusual amount of work ethic and patience can truly enjoy hunting, because they know that the more effort they put into the sport, the more they will enjoy their time in the woods even when they return empty-handed, and the more they will appreciate it when they are successful.
You Died: Dark Souls
By Lacey Brown
If you google YOU DIED, the very first thing that pops up is “Dark Souls.” The Dark Souls trilogy is one of the hardest games out there, if not the hardest, which is what it is known for. The difficulty the game brings, the never-ending customization, as well as all of the shenanigans you are able to get into with friends, come together to create one of the most rewarding and fun experiences for gamers.
When I first decided to try out one of the Souls games, a friend told me, “If you get easily frustrated, you will never beat this game. It is not for the faint of heart.” I learned this very quickly. The game gives you little to no guidance, so you wander around until you find the next bonfire, which are the game’s checkpoints and allow you to travel to previous ones you have already discovered. In doing so, you stumble upon extremely hard enemies. Some have poison or toxins, which drain your health at different speeds depending on how many times they hit you. The game has enemies set up in just the right locations, so an unsuspecting player could walk past and get ambushed by three of these enemies and lose all of their “souls,” which are very valuable and serve as the in-game currency. Just to add to the pain, if you die before you re-collect souls, they are gone forever. As you wander around, another thing that you can encounter are bosses large enough to crush you with one finger. Each boss has a different move set, which is the term used to describe their string of attacks and the order in which they will do them. This game is all about being able to read your enemy in order to know when to swing and when to roll or dodge an incoming attack. If you misread an incoming attack and do not roll in time, it could be the difference between winning the battle and having to start over. The very first boss in the game (aka the tutorial boss) took me about twenty attempts to defeat. It took me about eight tries to get him to approximately half health, and then after doing so, I was in for a surprise. This boss changes form after his health drops below half, which completely changes up its move set, causing you to start over and learn his new moves from scratch.
From the very beginning, this game is all about customization. The very first thing you do is choose what type of class you would like to be. You can choose to be a knight and run a sword and shield combo, an assassin with a dagger, or even a sorcerer with a staff that gives you the ability to cast numerous spells. The next customizables are the skill points. As you play, you earn enough souls to level up and put points into one of your skills. An example is stamina, which controls your ability to sprint, roll, and chain attacks. The next is vigor which controls how much health you have. Another example is strength, which allows you to use extremely large weapons, most of which are even bigger than you. Dexterity and intelligence both deal with spells. Intelligence controls how many spells you can cast, while dexterity controls how quickly you are able to cast them. So if you wanted to run around with a huge hammer, you would need a lot of strength. But if you want to use a cool sword that coats itself in hexes, you would need a good balance of intelligence and faith, which controls some types of miracles. The next important customizable factor is your armor. When it comes to the armor you wear, the weight is very important. If you want a lot of protection, that is fine, but you will have to sacrifice your ability to dodge attacks as quickly. The opposite also applies because you can roll faster and dodge more attacks with light armor, but you take more damage when you are hit.
The game also includes a fun multiplayer experience. Sometimes my friends and I will forget the enemies in the game, and just battle each other. We pull out ridiculous weapons like whips or candle holders and duel it out to see who wins. There was one time when we were doing just this, and a random guy invaded our game and wanted to join in on the fun. He kicked all of our virtual butts, but we still had a lot of fun. He helped us get through the rest of the game and became a good friend of ours.
By Amber Fraley
When you think of someone working at costumer service in a grocery store, what usually comes to mind? You may think of a person old enough to be your grandparent, moving slower than molasses, and constantly “forgetting” how to complete simple tasks required of them. Although the person behind the customer service desk seems to have everything under control, on some days that can be far from the truth. A normal day includes having the task of opening the store, closing the store, and dealing with chaotic customers and employees during the holiday season. Now, imagine these tasks being completed by a seventeen-year-old during her senior year in high school. “Hi, Welcome to Wayfield!”
What is defined as “opening” a store and preparing it for customers? My typical day started at six in the morning, which happened solely during the weekends and school breaks due to attending high school. Being a manager required me to wake up earlier and lose precious sleep, so I could account for all the money that is said to be in the safe, which is called “Counting the Office.” Some days this task was very simple, but on others it could be a huge pain and headache. If other managers had failed to calculate everything correctly the previous night, then it would be my responsibility to figure what was over- or under-accounted for, which could be something as simple as missing or double counting quarters or dimes. Other times I could experience something serious such as adding a thousand dollars’ worth of ones in the calculator when in actuality it was only a hundred ones, leading to incomprehensible confusion during that early of a time in the morning due to sleepiness and requiring a total recount when I was almost finished. After officially counting the office, I had to prepare multiple cashiers’ tills, ensuring I put the correct amount in each time and typing the information in the computer, so everything would be balanced for the next manager. Lastly, organization and cleanliness are essential, so the store would look presentable at all times. I would never know when an executive manager might decide to come in and make sure that I was doing my job of maintaining order in the front of the store thoroughly, such as being courteous and assisting those in need.
Opening the store was extremely stressing, but nothing compared to closing the store. The schedule given to me when I took the position of manager held no concern for my attendance and participation in school. A closing shift usually began at four after school and ended at eleven at night during the weekdays. It was a rarity for me to leave earlier than eleven because of all the tasks I had to finish before the night ended. These indirect tasks were usually given to employees to complete, such as cleaning the bathroom and breakroom, putting away go-backs (items customers didn’t want to purchase), and cleaning the registers and store entrance. My personal responsibilities happened once everyone left around quarter till eleven. I had to count everyone’s till and ensure they had the correct amount and balance it for the morning shift manager. The task of counting the office at night was extremely stressful because most nights cashiers had too little or too much money in their till due to technical mistakes made on the computer. I then had to meticulously look for errors made by the previous manager or myself, while the time continued to fly by. After counting, counting again, and getting an executive manager to check my numbers, I had to fill out a long sheet for a daily sales report, causing my eyes to burn from exhaustion and overuse. Not to mention, I still had to wake up bright and early at seven in the morning to attend and function properly in class just to continue the vicious cycle again.
The holiday season was a completely different ball game for a naïve teenager like myself, thinking grocery stores were not open on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The only positives received during this time were tips from sweet old ladies who wore strong perfume that smelled suspiciously like cologne and the lack of school work and activities given by my evil economics teacher. On the other hand, that meant longer hours and extra days put onto my schedule as well as the loss of quality family time. On top of the usual long stress-inducing days, I had to deal with rude, impatient, and complaining customers for two months. Customers felt their “special events” (your typical family gatherings, reunions, proposals, pregnancy reveals, and housewarmings) had to include the perfect food, attempting to impress those around them at the expense of employees’ efforts and feelings because they waited until the last minute to shop. These same customers failed to look for anything themselves when the can of gravy was literally right in front of them, created long lines by running back and forth through aisles because they forgot their vanilla extract, and brought their loud snotty nosed children who cried to the top of their lungs when they couldn’t get the Cheetos or Hershey’s snack, all while continuing to complain about the store’s service and inevitably throwing off my focus and ability to remain helpful and calm. The holiday season brought the realization that it takes a special type of person to run the customer service desk during trying times.
Comparison / Contrast Essays on Literary Characters
By Brandon Dowd
Moving into a new world can be very jarring. Sometimes this can be moving to a new place, or it could mean living in a new time. Both the Southerner Julian in “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” by Flannery O’Connor, and the Indian-born narrator in “The Third and Final Continent,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, are moving into a new world metaphorically and physically, respectively. Both characters are adjusting to new experiences and living with someone of an older generation, but they deal with it in different ways.
Both characters must change to make it in this new world that they have entered. The narrator explains his first experiences in the United States, saying, “In a week I had adjusted more or less. I ate cornflakes and milk morning and night, and bought some bananas for variety” (Lahiri 546). He is explaining the change in cuisine, and that he had to adjust to a different way of life. He takes on the behavior of some of the residents of the YMCA: “I left my carton of milk on the shade of the window sill, as I had seen other residents at the YMCA do” (Lahiri 546). He is acting on the old saying “When in Rome, do as Romans do.” Julian, however, is entering a new age after the Civil Rights has begun and argues with his mother about it. Not everyone agrees with his way of thinking, as seen when he talks about slaves with his mother: “‘You remain what you are,’ she said. ‘Your great-grandfather had a plantation and two hundred slaves.’ ‘There are no more slaves,’ he said irritably. ‘They were better off when they were,’ she said” (O’Connor 230). He is living in a new age, and not everyone is ready for that.
The main characters from both stories have someone in their lives who belongs to an older generation and is living in the old days. The narrator from “The Third and Final Continent” lives in a rental room owned by Mrs. Croft. She is an old woman still clinging to old ways. Her daughter and the narrator are talking in the narrator’s room when Mrs. Croft calls them down and says, “ ‘It’s improper!’ ‘What’s improper?’ ‘It is improper for a lady and gentleman who are not married to hold a private conversation without a chaperone!’” (Lahiri 553). This exchange shows the generational difference between Mrs. Croft and the narrator, or her daughter Helen. The narrator is surprised when he learns Mrs. Croft’s age. Helen is making her something to eat, and he asks if the mother can eat something more when Helen says, “ ‘She won’t eat anything else. She stopped eating solids after she turned one hundred. That was, let’s see, three years ago.’ I was mortified” (Lahiri 554). Just the number of years she had been alive surprised him. Although Julian’s mother is not as old as Mrs. Croft, she is also of a different time. Julian’s mother has a conversation with a woman on the bus about the changes occurring: “’The world is a mess everywhere,’ his mother said. ‘I don’t know how we’ve let it get in this fix’” (O’Connor 232). His mother is still living in the past: “’It’s ridiculous. It’s simply not realistic. They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence.’ ‘Let’s skip it,’ Julian said” (O’Connor 230) He wants her to see the world as he does. His mother tries to argue that the world is worse for the Civil Rights Act, though Julian disagrees.
A difference between the two main characters is the way they deal with the change. The narrator of Lahiri’s story adapts to the new place he has settled into, whereas Julian is bitter towards his mother for being stuck in the past. The narrator is supposed to put his rent above Mrs. Croft’s piano, but decides to be kind and hand the rent directly to Mrs. Croft: “ ‘What is your business?’ ‘The rent, madam.’ ‘On the ledge above the piano keys!’ ‘I have it here’” (Lahiri 551). She later thanks him for his kindness “ ‘It was very kind of you!’ ‘I beg your pardon Madam?’ ‘Very kind of you!’ She was still holding the envelope in her hands” (Lahiri 552). He is understanding because of her age, not hateful. Julian, however, is bitter towards his mother because of her ignorance. He sits next to a black man on the bus to catch his mother’s ire: “From his position he looked serenely across at his mother. Her face had turned an angry red” (O’Connor 234). He does this specifically to get her angry. Julian even thinks of other ways to fuel the fire: “He began to imagine various unlikely ways by which he could teach her a lesson. He might make friends with some distinguished Negro professor or lawyer and bring him home to spend the evening” (O’Connor 235). His bitterness will cost him in the end. His mother’s blood pressure skyrockets and she ends up having a stroke.
The Narrators’ Stories: Mala’s Husband and Sonny’s Brother
By Blake Richardson
Throughout life, people may have to undergo drastic change and overcome difficult obstacles, but probably none as severe as the narrators’ from “Sonny’s Blues” and “The Third and Final Continent.” “Sonny’s Blues,” a story by James Baldwin, is told in the point of view of Sonny’s brother. It is about a black man from Harlem named Sonny, who is trying to overcome drug addiction to become a musician. “The Third and Final Continent,” which was written by Jhumpa Lahiri, is about an Indian man who moves to America, having to go through a lot of change and deal with trying to develop a better relationship with his wife. The two narrators in the stories (Sonny’s brother and Mala’s husband) deal with very similar struggles and challenges throughout their lives. They both deal with a mentally ill parent; they are both successful considering their given situations; and they both develop a meaningful relationship.
Sonny’s brother must deal with his paranoid dad, while Mala’s husband must care for his insane, widowed mother. In “Sonny’s Blues,” the narrator’s father becomes paranoid following the death of his brother. His mother says, “‘Your daddy never did really get right again. Till the day he died he weren’t sure but every white man he saw was the man that killed his brother’” (Baldwin 192-93). This mental illness affected Sonny’s father in a negative way, and very well disabled him to be able to correctly raise his children. In “The Third and Final Continent,” the narrator must take care of his mother after his father dies. His mother feels as if she has nothing left after her husband dies, which causes her to go insane: “Once she had wandered half-naked to the tram depot before we were able to bring her inside again” (Lahiri 554). It really upsets Mala’s husband to see his mother turn out like that.
Sonny’s brother is a success in Harlem’s standards, working as a math teacher and raising a family, while Mala’s husband moves to America to seek a better life. In “Sonny’s Blues,” Harlem is not a place of great success. It is filled with crime and drugs, while people who grow up here usually do not become successful and stay away from the bad activities. As a matter of fact, many of the students that Sonny’s brother teaches are also going through the same situation. This is shown in the line, “These boys, now, were living as we’d been living then, they were growing up with a rush and their heads bumped abruptly against the low ceiling of their actual possibilities” (Baldwin 182). Fortunately, Sonny’s brother was able to become a math teacher and provide for himself and his family despite the low success rate of Harlem. Although Sonny’s brother was able to stay where he was to find success, Mala’s husband decided to move to find his. Coming from India, he finds it very difficult to succeed in another country: “I lived in London, in Finsbury Park, in a house occupied entirely by penniless Bengali bachelors like myself, at least a dozen and sometimes more, all struggling to educate and establish ourselves abroad” (Lahiri 545). Although he came from India, he was able to overcome many obstacles and find success in America.
Sonny’s brother develops his relationship with Sonny by accepting who he is, while Mala and her husband open up to each other. At first, Sonny’s brother feels guilty for not keeping his mom’s promise and making sure that Sonny does not get in any trouble, but he is also disappointed at Sonny for getting himself arrested. By the end of the story, the two brothers’ relationship seems bound together by music. This can be proven at the end of the story when Sonny and his bandmates began to play after Sonny has been handed a glass of scotch and milk bought by his brother that he places on the piano: “For me, then, as they began to play again it glowed and shook above my brother’s head like the very cup of trembling” (Baldwin 210). This relationship is developed as the story is told but is improved when Sonny’s brother finally accepts Sonny for who he is. In “The Third and Final Continent,” the relationship that is developed is the one between Mala and her husband. Since they are in an arranged marriage, their relationship starts off very rocky considering they are strangers to each other. Their relationship improves once they get to America and start to open up to each other. Eventually, they become bonded together: “‘Remember?’ Mala says, and smiles, amazed, as I am, that there was ever a time that we were strangers” (Lahiri 561). This is said at the end of the story while they are taking their son through town. The line really shows how much their relationship changes throughout the story.
Although the characters seen very different culturally, they are very similar. Both happen to be trying to find who they are as a person while also trying to find out more about a loved one. On top of all of this, they are also having to overcome harsh obstacles and challenges. They are both very resilient characters who show an abundance of grit.
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, pp. 181-210.
Sonny and Ozzie: Risky Escapes
By Jamie Ryder
At a first glance you would say that Sonny from “Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin, and Ozzie from “The Conversion of the Jews,” by Phillip Roth, have little in common, but when you dig more deeply into both stories you realize they both share several similarities. The story “Sonny’s Blues” is about a young man that struggles with an addiction to drugs and love of music; he will do anything to accomplish his goal of becoming a professional musician. “The Conversion of the Jews” is based on a boy named Oscar Freedman, Ozzie, who desires to know the true answers to his questions about God and will stop at nothing to get them. Both characters, Sonny and Ozzie, have a goal they want to accomplish; they both have dangerous escapes in their journey of accomplishing these goals, and they surprisingly both become successful.
Setting a goal early in life is one of the best things a person can do, and that is what Sonny and Ozzie do from the beginning of their stories. Sonny has a dream of becoming a musician. He tells his brother, “I want to play with jazz musicians... I want to play jazz” (Baldwin 194). Sonny's character makes it clear that he has one goal in life, and that is to play jazz. Ozzie is also very goal-oriented when it comes to knowing the truth about God. He continues to ask questions and to seek the answer even if it is not what everyone else asks: “What Ozzie wanted to know was always different” (Roth 213). This quote shows his curious nature and his goal of seeking the truth.
The journey of accomplishing their goals might seem completely different, but both characters have very dangerous escapes along the way. Growing up in Harlem, Sonny only knows one way to escape the feelings and shocking realities of his world, drugs. He uses them to make his reality seem better and to lift himself up when he is down. Sonny's escape is seen as an emotional one, whereas Ozzie’s escape is both emotional and physical. One day in class Ozzie raises his hand to ask the rabbi a question about whether God could make anything he wanted to make, and Rabbi Binder does not like his question. The situation escalates quickly. Binder eventually slaps Ozzie, which results in Ozzie’s fleeing up the stairs of the synagogue and onto the roof: “[A]s Ozzie locked shut the trapdoor in the rabbi’s face, the sharp click of the bolt into the lock might momentarily have been mistaken for the sound of the heavier gray that had just throbbed through the sky” (Roth 217). Ozzie uses the roof as a physical and emotional escape from the wrath of Rabbi Binder.
Even though their journeys are long and complicated, both Sonny and Ozzie become successful in the end. Sonny's long journey of going to jail and the death of his mom lead to his ultimate success of becoming a jazz musician: “They all gathered around Sonny and Sonny played. ...Sonny’s fingers filled the room with life” (209). Surprisingly, Ozzie’s journey of racing around on a synagogue roof also leads to success. At the end of the story he gets the rabbi, his mother, and the entire crowd of students to kneel and confess, “God can do anything” (224). This confession gives Oscar success in finally knowing the truth to one of his many questions.
Although these two stories seem to have not a single thing in common with each other, once you analyze their characters, you see there are similarities all around. One is a story of a struggling man trying to live his dream of becoming a jazz musician, and the other is about a boy that just desires to know the truth about God. Sonny and Ozzie are both very goal-oriented; they have very risky ways of escaping whether it is a physical escape or an emotional one; and in the end they both accomplish the goal they set out to achieve.
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, pp. 181-210.
Roth, Philip. “The Conversion of the Jews.” 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, pp. 211-24.
Sonny and Julian: Common Struggles
By Charles Stewart
Sonny and Julian are thrust into very different scenarios, yet somehow experience similar struggles. Julian deals with the difficulty of maintaining a quality relationship with his mother amidst her racism in “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” by Flannery O’Connor. Sonny on the other hand encounters a challenging relationship with his brother on the basis of Sonny’s career path in “Sonny’s Blues,” by James Baldwin. Sonny and Julian are both trying to pursue artistic careers while dealing with barriers between themselves and their families, along with deteriorating relationships in need of mending.
These artistic careers that Sonny and Julian want to pursue never do provide a solid economic foundation, but Julian’s does garner a great deal of family support. Julian wishes to become a writer but is forced to sell typewriters for a living to make ends meet. Luckily, though, his mom continues to support him during this time by not only providing a place to live but also encouragement for Julian. When Julian is feeling depressed about his situation, his mom says, “‘I think you’re doing fine,’ …, drawing on her gloves. ‘You’ve only been out of school a year. Rome wasn’t built in a day’” (O’Connor 229). This moment shows Julian’s mom’s continued support for him during a difficult time in his life. In contrast, Sonny is berated by his brother for his choice to pursue a career as a jazz pianist. Sonny’s brother does not support him for a long time, especially early on when Sonny first expresses his interest in jazz: “‘I want to play jazz,’ he [Sonny] said…. ‘Are you serious?’ ‘Hell, yes, I’m serious.’ He [Sonny] looked more helpless than ever, and annoyed, and deeply hurt” (Baldwin 194-95). Sonny is not able to get the support for his career that he desires from his brother, whereas Julian is fully supported by his mother.
Julian gains more support from his mother than Sonny does from his brother, who does not know how to help Sonny overcome his drug problem, but Julian and his mother still have other obstacles to overcome. The major obstacle driving a wedge between Julian and his mother is Julian’s mother’s racism. Julian comes from a family that had plantations and endorsed slavery. Because of this, Julian’s mother has strong negative feelings towards African-Americans: “‘There are no more slaves,’ he [Julian] said irritably. ‘They were better off when they were,’ she said…. ‘They should rise, yes, but on their own side of the fence’” (O’Connor 230). Julian’s mother dislikes having to live around African-Americans, whereas Julian wishes to treat them as equals. This divide between Julian and his mother is similar to the divide between Sonny and his brother. However, instead of racism being the barrier, it is drugs for Sonny. Sonny has a problem with drugs, especially heroin, and it causes him to abandon his family and eventually get sent to jail. After getting set free, Sonny decides to come clean with his brother: “‘I [Sonny] couldn’t tell you when Mama died – but the reason I wanted to leave Harlem so bad was to get away from drugs’” (Baldwin 205). Sonny had been stuck keeping the reason for leaving Harlem from his brother up until this point, when he finally decides to start attempting to remove this wedge between his brother and himself.
Sonny is able to begin mending his broken relationship, but Julian is not so lucky. Julian is constantly in turmoil with his mother over her treatment of African-Americans. Eventually, this comes to a peak when he began screaming at her for insulting an African-American mother and her child. This encounter causes a breakdown for Julian’s mother: “‘Mother!’ he [Julian] cried. ‘Darling, sweetheart, wait!’ Crumpling, she fell to the pavement…. The tide of darkness seemed to sweep him back to her, postponing from moment to moment his entry into the world of guilt and sorrow” (O’Connor 241). At this moment, Julian is stuck dealing with the reality that he last spoke to his mother in a screaming match. Luckily for Sonny, though, he ends up mending his relationship with his brother. At the end of the story, Sonny’s brother attends one of Sonny’s gigs and finally begins to understand Sonny’s passion: “In the dark, the girl came by and I [Sonny’s brother] asked her to take drinks to the band-stand…. the girl put a Scotch and milk on top of the piano for Sonny…. he sipped from it and looked toward me, and nodded…. For me, then as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother’s head like the very cup of trembling” (Baldwin 210). This moment signifies Sonny and his brother finally coming to terms and showing true love and care for one another once more.
Sonny and Julian are both in very different circumstances, yet share common themes. They both have artistic careers that do not provide a solid economic foundation; however, their relationships are divided by very different means. Sonny has a divide with his brother over drugs, whereas Julian has a divide with his mother over racism. Sadly, only Sonny manages to mend his broken relationship. These two characters, in very different environments, share common struggles in their lives.
Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues.” 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore and Heidi Pitlor. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015, pp. 181-210.
Film Adaptations of Books
By Jamie Ryder
We all have a favorite book that we read and then impatiently wait for the movie to be released, but sometimes those movies are not what you imagined when you first read the book. Cinema can tend to stray from the original details and plot, but sometimes stories are adapted perfectly. Books that are adapted into movies can be separated into three major categories: movies that are considered accurate, films that only leave out minor, insignificant details, and ones that remove major plot twists.
The conversion of book to movie can sometimes be a hard one to make for both the author of the book and the producer of the movie, but when they work together the result can be everything the book’s followers dreamed about. Of course, not every movie adaptation will be perfect, but in this category the movie must include the major and even most of the minor details of the book that influenced its making. To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee, is an excellent example of this. According to “The Greatest Movie Adaptations of Books,” the film was awarded three Oscars, one for Gregory Peck as one of the main characters, Atticus Finch. Alexander Armstrong states that Lee’s debut of her first published novel sold above 30 million copies and its movie is a dependable conversion of Lee’s story (quoted in Weinberg). After watching this movie, I agree completely with this statement. The producer almost seemed to use the book as a manuscript for the film, and it covered virtually every detail of the book.
Although that movie was considered a perfect reworking of the book, not every film has every minor detail that the book might contain. Things such as hair color, eye color, and small backstory details can be viewed sometimes as insignificant and can be easily passed by the eye of a producer. I found several examples of this in the famous Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. When Collins describes Prim’s cat, Buttercup, in the opening chapter of the first novel, she describes the cat as having a “muddy yellow coat [that] matched the bright [buttercup] flower” (Collins 3), but in the opening scene of the movie Buttercup is seen as a black cat with white paws. Fans of the book quickly noticed this mistake and caused such an uproar that the producers changed cats for the following three movies to please their audience. Another detail that the producers changed is how the main character, Katniss Everdeen, acquired her mockingjay pin that is used as a symbol for the following novels and movies. Katniss sells strawberries to the mayor illegally, and her friend Madge, the mayor’s daughter, gives the pin to Katniss as a gift when she is about to enter the games. In the movie she is given the pin at The Hob, which is the black market of the series, as a gift from one of her old friends. Thankfully, the rest of the first movie and the next three contained most of the minor and major details found in the book series.
Minor details that are left out in movies can sometimes be overlooked, but when a major plot twist is forgotten or changed it can be easily noticed and can make people turn against the series. Forgetting a small detail such as the color of a cat is something that can be overlooked most of the time; however, the death of a main character is an important plot twist in the book to be altered in a movie adaptation. A prime example of this kind of alteration is in the last book of the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Tris Prior, the main female character of the Divergent series, is given a glorious and heroic death in the final chapters of the last novel in the series changing the focus from her to the male protagonist, Four, and the family that she leaves behind, but unlike the book, the film skips over that twist and ends the movie with Tris still being alive and the main focus. Finishing the movie the way they did changed the entire ending of the story that was so carefully thought out by the author of the series.
Converting a book into a movie can be something that can truly bring a book to life. Mary H. Snyder states, “[the producer] must know that they’re up against quite a jury of immense proportions, of all different types of people with the different interests judging the ‘success’ of the adaptation.” Many times, it can be everything the reader dreamed it would be, but occasionally it can ruin the effect that the book had when certain attributes are left out or often forgotten by the producers. There are three ways a film adaptation can be described: it follows to perfection the book it was influenced by; only a few minor details are skipped over; or major plot twists and details are left out of the movie. Overall, I believe that if handled with care, a book can be adapted into a movie successfully, leaving both the viewers and readers satisfied with the results.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2009. Print.
Snyder, Mary H. Analyzing Literature-to-Film Adaptations: A Novelist’s Exploration and Guide. Continuum, 2011. EBSCOhost,
Weinberg, Rob. “The Greatest Movie Adaptations of Books,” Classic fM, 5 Aug. 2013, .
Songs of the Wild World
By Charles Stewart
Wild World, the latest album released by the group Bastille, is packed full of content and emotion. It should come as no surprise from the group’s name, which is derived from the July 14, 1789 storming of the Bastille by the people of France that instigated the French Revolution, that this album has songs filled with story. They never shy away from controversial topics and issues that plague society, but still provide songs that hit closer to home. Their latest album, Wild World, is no exception. With songs depicting different societal issues, personal struggles, and the impact of love and relationships; this album is perhaps their greatest yet.
Bastille thrust themselves into the spotlight with “The Currents” from the album Wild World. Previously shying away from politically heavy topics, “The Currents” was their first song to tackle these challenging subjects. Having been released during elections in the United States, it talks a great deal about people saying whatever they want without thinking when in higher positions of power. One example is the lyric, “Think about the power of your words,” depicting the need for people to think before they speak, especially when they have the ability to speak to vast numbers of people at once. Of course, this is not the only example of Bastille depicting societal issues. In “Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith)” Bastille takes on the rather controversial issue of capital punishment. The song describes the process of Perry Smith, a criminal tried for the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas, being sent to prison, then hanged for his crimes (“Four Walls…”). At the end of the song, it even contains a quote from Perry Smith: “Being brought up one way and trying to see another way is very difficult.” Both of these songs are marvelous examples of Bastille depicting societal issues in Wild World.
Bastille continues to impact its audience through songs like “Good Grief” and “An Act of Kindness.” However, instead of focusing on problems within society, these lyrics focus on personal struggles someone might experience. For instance, in “Good Grief” Bastille talks of loss and the process of grieving over loss. This actually fits well into the genre of indie that Bastille is given, as described in Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music: “Indie songs are often brooding and contemplative” (Fonarow 54). “Good Grief” depicts a person contemplating attending a funeral of a loved one lost and the challenge of finding a way to effectively grieve over their loss. “An Act of Kindness” follows a similar pattern with its depicting someone struggling to cope with feeling alone in the world as exemplified in the line: “Kindness, so many people pass me by.” Bastille shows they can find a seat in the indie music scene while providing original music that fans enjoy.
However, they also go back to musical roots with songs about love and relationships. The best example of this in Wild World is the song “Glory.” This song is a beautiful commentary on the impact two people have on one another in a relationship and how they can see things so differently. They even go the extra mile in pursuing this idea with their music video of the song that expresses even better the differences two people in a relationship can have while still staying deeply connected and committed to one another. The dedication Bastille shows towards their musical themes is truly exemplary.
Bastille provides a magnificent album full of effective themes while still staying true to their roots. Their depiction of societal issues, personal struggles, as well as love and relationships, provides the basis for Bastille’s album Wild World. For Bastille, along with indie music in general as described by Wendy Fonarow, this sensitivity within their songs, showing a deep sense of character (56), provides the basis for their beautiful and impactful music.
Bastille. Wild World. Virgin Records, 2016.
Fonarow, Wendy. Empire of Dirt: The Aesthetics and Rituals of British Indie Music. Wesleyan University Press, 2013.
“Four Walls (The Ballad of Perry Smith) by Bastille.” Songfacts.. November 23, 2018.