School for Wives


Annie John

The Catcher in the Rye

400 Blows

The Woman Warrior

Amazing Grace

Moliere, School for Wives:

I think both the playwright and the translator have done an excellent job. Moliere manages to come up with a play that consists of many moral lessons while at the same time being very humorous. Wilbur's work is just as fantastic as Moliere's play in the sense that he not only manages to convey all the main points in Moliere's play clearly, he also succeeds in preserving the amusing and poetic substance of the play.

I learned from this play about how petty and ridiculous the emotion of jealousy can be. Also, I learned what some of the causes of jealousy are from the class discussion. Someone made a very good point saying that Arnolphe's jealousy was caused from insecurity. I have to add that I absolutely loved this play. Besides the good points it makes on jealousy and how it backfires, it was a wonderful love story.

I've learned that true love is to care for another and support him/her in whatever they like to do. Agnes wants to learn, but Arnolphe refuses to let her learn.

People who are primarily concerned with themselves will end up alone if they are not careful.

One thing I learned is that one cannot control life, or, more specifically, no one can shape the future of someone else.

Voltaire, Candide:

Although it is obvious that there are a lot of exaggerations in the book, the story still gives a dark picture of human nature. What makes this book very pessimistic is that the bad things mentioned in it are mostly caused by humans. One of the positive aspects that emerges from this story is the importance of hard work. The author wants us to know that although the fate of humans is uncontrollable by ourselves, we still have to work hard. By working hard, we will be able to overcome or lessen the impact of adversity.

What I learned from the book is that the world is what you make of it.

One thing I learned from following Candide through his travels is that one is never satisfied with what one has; a person always wants more to be better than the person next to him. One other idea brought up in my reading of Candide was that money does not buy happiness.

This novel taught me that comparisons--like Voltaire's between Paris and El Dorado--are one of the best ways to illustrate a complicated lesson.

It's amazing how physically small the book Candide is when I realize not only how much went on during the book, but how much can be interpreted also.

Through the discussions in class and through the book I learned a lot about French culture. I realized that when Americans refer to the French people as rude, they misunderstand the French. From what I gather, the French have opinions they are not afraid to express. When a French person voices their opinion and argues with you, it is actually a compliment because they find you worthy enough to consider your opinion. People need to have their own opinions about situations. Thoughts and ideas make up a person's individuality and one cannot be afraid to express their own point of view. The French obviously know that, but I think a lot of Americans need to do that, especially teenagers and young adults.

Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John:

I think the lesson here is to cherish your childhood, because once you move away from home, you realize how much you miss the dependency on your parents.

Reading Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John brought back memories of growing up and coming of age as a young woman. The time period between the age of ten and the age of seventeen is very trying for a girl. Many of the experiences that Annie went through were very realistic, and I could relate to them. I remember thinking when I was ten how old I was, and how smart I was, and then thinking the same thing at fifteen, and then at seventeen also. Like Annie, I also had friends that my mother didn't approve of. Also, just like Annie John, I purposely tried to do what my mother told me not to. When I turned twelve, my mother and I would have horrendous fights over nothing. I think I yelled at her just because I felt like blaming my confusion at growing up on her.

One thing I learned through this book is that we, as sons and daughters, sometimes do not realize deep thoughts and cares our parents have for us. The way Annie's mom's attitude changed towards her was not because she didn't love Annie any more, but because she wanted Annie to become more mature and have greater success. We do not usually see that in our parents and sometimes we dislike them for it.

By reading about the growing process of the author, I can compare my own experience with the author's experience. Although the processes we have been through have many differences, there are some aspects of her experience that I can relate to, especially the part about the author's relationship with her mother. The feeling of not really knowing someone that she thought she knew well when she was younger is also a feeling that I (and many people, I believe) share.

The main problem I have with the book lies with the fact that I am male. Annie John, in my personal view, is much easier to relate to if one is a female. Kincaid vividly describes some experiences that only another female could know. The most obvious of these experiences deals with menstruation. Only another female could understand the embarrassment and fear that accompany one of the most important milestones in the female adolescence process.

Annie John is a story about a particular girl growing up in Antigua. It is also a story about every teenager growing up everywhere. Annie's problems, fears, and hopes are ours as well. Kincaid captures the feelings of alienation which teenagers experience, especially confusion about change. Change in our bodies, change in our opinions on practically everything, feelings towards parents, siblings, and friends. The idea that we should be our own person, with unique opinions, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses is at once exhilarating and frightening. This becomes clear to me and to Annie when she describes the girls in her new class without Gwen: "They had no different ideas of how to be in the world; they certainly didn't think that the world was a strange place to be caught living in" (90). This statement encapsulates the feelings a teenager experiences--how one wants to belong to a group even though you believe that they aren't quite at your level. What your level is, you don't know, but they aren't there yet.

When I was little, unlike Annie John, I wanted to fit in, not stand out.

From reading Annie John, I learned that friction in relationships between mothers and daughters holds no cultural boundaries. When I was really little, I wanted to be just like my mom. Then when I got into my teens, all I could do was fight with her.

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye:

I learned about some American culture and some American slang from reading this book. What makes this book great is that it is natural and direct. The author tells us what is in Holden's mind very often and he does this directly. This makes me feel that the author is telling us a story, in person, and not just writing about a story. The use of slang also helps to make the story less formal and more personal.

I found Holden's honesty interesting considering the time in which the novel was written. However, only four decades later, Holden's sexual fantasies do not seem like a big deal because we are so bombarded with graphic scenes and descriptions in books, movies and on television. This brought up the first question for me--what influences the movie industry and why have things changed so drastically in such a short period of time? Society has become more casual in its attitude towards drugs, sex and being able to talk about such events. In some respects I think this is good; we should be able to talk about current issues facing teenagers. But where do we draw the line? And if we are so graphic and vivid about such "immoral" things, what does that say about our society today?

I love this book. I absolutely love this book. It's not necessarily a book I would pick up and read ten or twelve times (I think I would get really depressed), but I've read it twice, and just those two times had a huge impact. Holden is a character everybody can relate to. There is a little bit of Holden in all of us. Many times people speak of Holden as "messed up," or "rebellious," but I disagree. I think Holden is just a confused teenager, like many teenagers. Holden's fears, thoughts, and criticisms give voice to thoughts that many teens don't want to admit they have.

Holden believes that most individuals in this world are "phonies" who are not honest. Yet he himself also lies a lot, maybe to escape reality.

The lesson here in both the book and the movie is that having talent in something is not all that matters in life. One needs to learn to use it right. Only then can they bring good to themselves and to society. When Caulfield chooses not to use his talent, or to use it without clear direction, he usually gets into a mess. Learning to use one's talent is as important as the talent itself.

I, like Holden, tend to focus on the strange aspects of life and become irritated as I discover the harsh realities of the world such as scam artists, phonies, and cheats.

In retrospect, Holden's journey gave him the opportunity to reexamine his family life and really cherish the relationship with his sister. He stopped taking his family for granted. As each month passes at school and the longer I am away from home, the more I start to appreciate my younger brother and my parents.

I know Holden Caulfield. There is a guy who once was a huge part of my life who is almost exactly like Holden.

Francois Truffaut, 400 Blows [film]:

The 400 Blows by Francois Truffaut describes the life of a teenage boy in the Paris of 1959. He belongs to a working class family and his parents have to struggle with a daily and gloomy reality. Most of the time working, Antoine's parents almost do not have spare time to spend with him, and when they do, they treat him in a tough and not understanding way. Also, in his school he does not encounter a positive environment. He does not find it interesting and the teachers' methods fail to drive him to engage himself in his work. At that point it seems that Antoine is going to end up like his parents and have the kind of unhappy life they undergo. But then Antoine's life takes a different turn. He begins to read Honore de Balzac's book. In a special moment of inspiration and emotion he excitedly acknowledges the sentence: "Eureka, I found it!" It seems that this event is a moment of climax in his childhood. Although it is not clear what exactly he found, it is clear that he undergoes a certain process of education.
This awakening event shows that one may encounter many experiences in life and be surrounded by a great deal of information and opportunities, but there could be, sometimes, only a particular moment where one gets educated more efficiently than a long process of learning. This is a moment where a specific circumstance, memory or idea opens up a clear new world and may change a person's life.

I am curious as to why the film ended with a close-up of the child in the middle of the beach with nowhere to go and no one to see. There is absolutely no sense of finality to the film. One cannot feel admiration, pity, happiness or sadness for the boy. Personally, I believe that the ability to connect to a character is one of the primary qualities that makes a film successful. In that sense, 400 Blows fails as an excellent film in my mind.

Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior:

This is an account of a Chinese immigrant's daughter's experience in the United States. Through her experiences growing up the reader learns what it is like to grow up in a different country than that of your parents. Kingston uses vivid descriptions to show differences in the cultures and their views of life and the reader realizes that being an immigrant allows people to develop an identity that is fed from both cultures.

The Woman Warrior is a story about finding one's voice. It is a story about mother and daughter relationships. It is a story of finding one's self. Maxine Hong-Kingston finds her voice, consequently herself, by banishing the silence that surrounded her childhood.

More than any other book we have read this semester, The Woman Warrior allowed me to see just how difficult it can be to grow up in the United States when all tradition and knowledge lie in another country.

I wonder if Maxine Hong-Kingston has a daughter and, if so, what is her relationship with her? Does she share in her Chinese ancestry or is she thoroughly and completely American? Does she have any ghosts?

How important is it for one always to follow in their parents' footsteps? For many, including myself, parents provide an important foundation for who we are and often provide us with valuable lessons. Does this mean that one must carry out their every wish and marry whomever they want, go into the profession they want, and be the person they want? I do not think so. For if one does, that person is just a ghost following a formula in their life.

Kingston's novel is a vivid description of growing up an immigrant in American society, and how confusing it can be. Many times, children are torn between the culture of their family or the new American culture, which can divide a family. The narrator is confused about her identity, and feels trapped, trying to find her own voice in a family already full of culture and stories. This book adds another perspective to the many cultures we have studied in our class.

In a book I'm using for my research paper, The House on Mango Street, the main character Esperanza writes, "I put it [her childhood] down on paper and then the ghost does not ache so much. I write it down and Mango says goodbye sometimes. She does not hold me with both arms. She sets me free." I thought it was interesting that they both used the word "ghost."

Kingston's choice to stress the word "ghost" repeatedly and the way she shows these "ghost" experiences show the silence and withdrawal of a first generation Chinese-American. She uses the story of the little girl, Moon Orchid, and Brave Orchid's children to demonstrate this reticence, her voicelessness, her feeling of being trapped inside not only herself, but her culture. There is even a time when her mother cuts her tongue, further emphasizing her voicelessness and inability to express herself.

I think this book is really artistically written. It painted a vivid picture in my mind. However, the non-chronological writing and distinguishing between the real and imaginary aspects of her writing were difficult for me. At the same time these difficulties made this reading interesting and exciting to me.

Kingston shows the difficulties of growing up in two different worlds: America and the China of her mother's "talk stories." Through a series of five distinct "talk stories" Kingston reveals fragmented aspects of her life and of the lives of other Chinese women. The "talk stories" can be considered gifts, now that Kingston has learned to use them in analyzing the differences between two cultures and two generations. As a Chinese immigrant, Kingston explores what is true and what is myth in her new society.

Even though Kingston felt as though she was constantly surrounded by ghosts of kinds, I think it wasn't until she finally opened up, broke the silence, and voiced her emotions that she was able to rid herself of the phantoms that haunted her.

The book helped me realize the power of using one's voice. The ability to clearly express one's beliefs and opinions is vital to succeed in this country. That expression transfers to the ability to write. The gift of expression and storytelling is precious. It is an innately human endeavor, the skill that separates us from animals.

I agree that the ability to clearly express oneself is essential in this society, and people that are able to write have an advantage at expression. But there are also other ways to find a voice, like through music or dance or art. Many times a work of art, or film, or television, expresses the artist's voice, and also influences people.

Even though Kingston felt as though she was constantly surrounded by ghosts of kinds, I think that it wasn't until she finally opened up, broke the silence, and voiced her emotions that she was able to rid herself of the phantoms that haunted her.

The biggest way that I related to Kingston, a Chinese-American daughter, was her eagerness to voice and express herself. I, like the author, was worried about what others would think of me. I havenever been classified as a quiet person, actually I love to talk, but when it comes to a classroom setting, I become extremely nervous. I was constantly thinking, "Will my answer be right? Will I look stupid if I ask a question? or Is my opinion valid?" It wasn't until college that I realized no matter who or what the "ghosts" were I should voice my opinion and take a chance because one never knows if his or her answer is correct. I seem to learn better in an environment where people share and discuss their ideas rather than where people must sit silently and listen to a professor lecture. So now I tend to talk more than I did before. For me that is a good thing, but I can't speak for others around me who have to listen to me. So, like Kingston, it wasn't until later that I realized I had my own distinctive voice and that my first challenge was to combat my ghosts and fears before I could have confidence in myself.

I learned about some Chinese culture and traditions after reading this book. Although my grandparents are from China, there are many traditional beliefs mentioned in the book that I do not know of. Most of the younger generations of Chinese do not know about the traditions because they do not follow the traditions when they are in foreign countries. Like Kingston said, they do not follow the traditions because they feel uncomfortable, as their cultures are so different from the cultures of people around them. I also learned about the difficulties that Chinese who grow up in the States face. In general, I think it is easier for a Chinese to grow up in Malaysia [like me] that to grow up in the States. The bigger Chinese population in Malaysia also helps in preserving the Chinese culture there.

I thought what you said about how growing up in Malaysia with a Chinese heritage is easier than growing up in the United States was interesting. At first one would think that living in the U.S. would b easy because of so many different ethnic groups and because it is referred to as the melting pot.

Since I have come from a long line of Americans, this novel helped me to see the difficulties and strengths of children who are first-generation Americans. I have a question for someone who is a first-generation American: I wonder if they themselves found the transition so difficult that at times they felt their tongues had been cut?

My favorite part was the story of her mother in the medical school, when she slept in the "haunted room." It was good to see that some cultures really do believe in the supernatural, while others, like our own society, do not take it very seriously. I personally do believe in spirits and ghosts just from stories told by my family. My mother, for instance, tells stories of a haunted bedroom she had in her house. She would tell us how the bed would shake sometimes and things would make noises. The best story was told by my aunt. She said that when you're alone in her house, there are times when you can hear footsteps walking about.

Silence is one of the main motifs of the book. In class we asked whether silence is a positive thing and I would like to answer that in the context of Holocaust Week. During the Second World War there was a very big group that did not speak: the bystanders. They knew what was happening to their friends and fellow citizens, but they chose silence. Their muteness was a deadly one. It stemmed from cowardice and worries for their own safety. Many people decided to be quiet, so many, that the numbers are horrifying, and one cannot stop and wonder what would have been if... What would have been if this group of people had spoken. Silence is many times lethal. It is easier to be quiet and not to speak up in order to feel safe, but this kind of safety is only on the surface; deep down the bystander and his values are in the greatest danger of all: of losing one's human identity.

Silence is just what I wanted to talk about in class before break, too. In the incident with the classmate, was the mute strong or weak? Did she risk her life by having pain, and was this worth it?

Another part of the book that I enjoyed was the emphasis on silence. The class discussion right before break was great, showing that silence can mean strength in some people, while showing a weakness in others.

Because this book is so full of different thoughts and ideas, the reading is difficult. Kingston's ideas and thoughts are intelligent and well described, but are hard to follow because they are so complex. She raises interesting topics but, because she does not know the answers, it is hard to understand what she is trying to say. But that may just be the point. As Jenny beautifully put it, this is Kingston's way of "finding a voice and rising above the silence and confusion of being a first-generation Chinese-American woman," dealing with all these issues. I have a feeling that I cannot appreciate the full value of this book upon reading it only once. It is so thick in content. I can tell that Kingston picked every single word she put down on paper only after making sure it was exactly what she was feeling.

I could relate to the mother-daughter relationship. My mother was born in Morocco and, although I too was born in another country I am very American in my ways and ideas. It has been hard growing up with a mother from a different culture because her points of view are radically different than mine. They differ in small things such as what to wear to bigger issues about marriage.

"The sweat of hard work is not to be displayed. It is much more graceful to appear favored by the gods" (p. 64). This is the traditional Chinese view, which I do not think fits into the American idea of work.

I was wondering if there was another point of reference--other letters, conversations, etc. not written by Kingston but by another family member--which could shed new light on the stories in The Woman Warrior.

I am the third generation of my family to be born in America, but in reading this book I began to wonder what it was like for my great-grandparents when they came to the United States. I know my ancestors kept some of their traditions from Eastern Europe and retained their Jewish identity, but they also assimilated into America and did not follow all the strict practices they adhered to in their native lands. What influences people to retain certain aspects of their heritage while assimilating into the mainstream of society? I know in my life I have tried to remain true to the things that are most important to me. Much of what is important to me I have learned from my family and through my religion. I'm not sure I could put into concrete words what this is, but I know I have been raised with certain values--such as an appreciation for hard work and striving to maintain healthy and happy relationships in my life--and will carry these feelings and beliefs with me for the rest of my life. However, I am also a minority and can related to some of Kingston's troubles. I always thought I wanted to marry a Jewish man, but I have recently realized that I want to marry someone I love. I hope that man is Jewish, but if he is not, I will face the consequences of possibly having to compromise in the partnership. I want to marry someone within my faith and want to carry on the traditions I have learned, but I believe love is color- and religion-blind. This book gave me an interesting glimpse into the heartaches immigrants go through and made me question my identity as I struggle to define myself today.

Although there are many similarities between Korean and Chinese cultures, the stories in this memoir were very unfamiliar to me. There were a few parts I understood, though. Ghosts are feared greatly by both countries. Water ghosts, or the ghosts of ones who died of drowning, are some of the worst ghosts one can encounter according to Kingston. That is true of Korean culture as well. Referring to foreigners as ghosts seems to be fairly consistent as well. The book was a way for me to reflect on changes in Asian culture. I can rea lly imagine the things Maxine's mother was talking about. The fear of Americans as immigrants, not fully trusting foreigners, and practicing ancient rituals are all things I've heard of and learned in Asia, as Asians tend to hold lots of pride in their own particular culture. But as Asia has become more westernized, things have changed. We accept the things of western society, from its educational systems to its medicine. I also saw the cultural gap between first-generation Asian-Americans and what Asians refer to as 1.5 or 2nd-generation Asian-Americans. The language and cultural differences have brought about much damage to immigrant families. I see so many families breaking up because of these cultural differences, mainly the language barrier. This book was a way for me to reflect back upon my life as an Asian-American and for me to realize some of the tragedies that might be occurring among immigrant families.

Ghosts to Chinese are like aliens to Americans. Both are used to describe foreigners, and both are "lifeforms" that are not fully understood by the people.

The author is trapped between fitting into American culture and living up to her mother's expectations of her as a Chinese girl. Her fear develops from her struggle to learn a second language which is represented by the American culture. I am able to relate myself to the author because of my similar fear and struggle to fit into the American culture. Not having the same advantages as my peers, who have a strong sense of educational values and a secure familial background to practice their American culture, I only possess my educational values through school. The author's mother was a big part of her life. She shows how her mother and other relatives influenced her lifetime goals. Being in the same position, I thank my mother for my present achievements. My mother is similar to the author's mother, as she is both hard-working and demanding. As a child growing up, my mother's strong sense of discipline was never lost on me. She kept me from doing many things but showed me the importance of our family values.

This book expanded my knowledge by introducing me to the struggle immigrants face in order to form their individual identities. Before reading it, I was unaware of the stark contrasts between American and foreign cultures.

Kingston uses the word "ghost" many times in her book. She also calls this book "Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts." The author, and many Chinese, use "ghosts" to describe foreigners. Ghosts to Chinese are like aliens to Americans. Both are used to describe foreigners. "Girlhood among ghosts" is Kingston's experience of growing up in a foreign country among foreigners.

Jonathan Kozol, Amazing Grace:

In Amazing Grace Kozol lays out some of the problems people of the South Bronx are going through: poverty, drugs crimes, and social abuses. I knew there existed many problms in many poor areas of American metropolises, but did not know how big the problems were. These people living in poverty are often abused. Waiting in the hospital waiting-room for hours before they are treated, getting force out of housing because of the welfare office's faults, living in constant fear of when some stranger might walk into a house and shoot someone are just a few examples of unacceptable inefficiency in our system.

What was promising is the enthusiasm of the children in the book. In an environment where it is hard to live with hope, these children have found hope and are working towards it. Their efforts just to remain happy and hopeful in despair are admirable.

The question that has come up in class focuses on what we, as rather affluent students and university representatives, can do to help what is now a dire situation. Such a complex question has no simple answer. The first thing we can do is acknowledge that there is a problem. We are often so caught up in the problems dealing with our facet of society that we forget there are much more serious problems. Once we admit there is a problem, there are numerous courses of action we can take to better the overall quality of life. There cannot be one tremendous revelation or revolution; however, good things come in small ways. Programs such as the Posse Foundation help minority and poor students gain admission into high caliber educational educational institutions. With this help, these students will have the education and confidence to enter the workplace and make a difference in their life and the lives of many others.

Amazing Grace awakened in me a feeling of guilt and shame, but most of all, a feeling of want: a want and desire to do something. Kozol's book raised many questions, but he did not provide any concrete answers. I want to know, Mr. Kozol, what can I do? Driving through the city, growing up, at Harlem my father always locked the door. And as much as I would want to, I do not think I could ever unlock those doors. Besides those children, there are still the drug dealers and criminals. The South Bronx is a dangerous place. I could never do what Mr. Kozol did, just go down and visit a neighborhood. How can I either banish my fears or do something to help those children? I want to find Mr. Kozol's e-mail address. I would like to tell him I deeply felt his book. I also want him to give me some help answering my question. I hope some day to be a writer. I wish that I could write something as helpful as Amazing Grace.

One part that particularly struck me was the description of the tree with all the teddy bears tied to it. The teddy bears represented the innocence of the children that was taken away from them and confined to a tree by their surrounding society. The bears also watch over the children and the neighborhood, and look on with sympathetic eyes when the addicts come to collect their clean needles, or a memorial service is held for someone who has overdosed. The bears are also not able to leave the tree, as they are tied to it. This parallels the lives of the chidren that want to be happy, but are stuck in this neighborhood. It really saddened me that these kids who are so bright and eager seem to have no future. However, when Debbie Bial spoke to our class about the Posse Foundation, I was inspired. I thought it was a great idea to give these kids an opportunity to have the experience of an education in a great university. Hopefully, their college degrees will give them more of a chance for social mobility, and an opportunity to really shine without the confines of a poverty-strickn society. I am really looking forward to meeting the Posse members next year, and hope their experience at Brandeis will be positive.

Many times in reading this book I found myself on the verge of tears. It made me think a lot about the future. We live in America, the land of the free, yet these people seem to still be in chains. I wonder how our government and our society can know about the misfortunes of the South Bronx and why nothing has been done to change this. I fear that this problem will spread and years from now every neighborhood will have a waste burner just around the corner, people will have to wait days for treatment in a hospital, and drugs will be sold openly in the center of town. I wonder if anything can be done to stop these conditions from spreading?

I have so much admiration for the citizens in the South Bronx. Even though their world seems so horrible, they are so religious and have so much faith.

Before reading the book, the image of the Bronx that I knew was mainly formed by the movies I had watched. A place that was dirty and full of crimes, and the people there were solely responsible for these adversities. This book makes me realize that the government is very much at fault also for the conditions in the Bronx.

Amazing Grace was a new perspective on New York City for me. Having grown up on Long Island and visiting the city all the time, as well as having two parents who were born and bred in the city made me assume that I knew most of what there was to now about New York. Kozo'ls interviews and research into the dynamic of the South Bronx has shown me that there are perspectives of which I was not aware. Although I was loath to admit it, I am one of those tourists who see the illusions as reality. I often drive on the Bruckner Expressway, from Manhattan to the calm safety of the suburbs, without thinking about the areas I am driving through. Call it ignorance, call it thoughtlessness, or call it the fact that the public doesn't discuss these problems.

I would like to ask Kozol his view on G-d's question to Ezekiel, "Can these bones live?"

Kozol struck me as a socialist through his way of conveying the difficulties he saw. He clearly advocates a large welfare state with funding for a massive police force, a greatly improved public school system, and more housing projects. He seems to think that the poor shouldn't be, and that they shouldn't be forced to live in one area. He seems to think that the idea of "Poverty Island" is unfair to the people who are forced to live there under circumstances beyond their control.

Shocking--that is the first word that came to mind while I read each page of Amazing Grace. I started to ask myself difficult questions which neither I nor anyone else can respond to with a simple answer: How can we stop poverty going on around the country? What steps can I take in order to help underprivileged Americans? Why am I so blessed with a good home and family and not Bernardo Rodriguez or Angel Rosa?

By reading about the constant battles of inner city families on a daily basis, I viewed my life and my country differently. I started to realize how truly lucky I am and that we need to start taking drastic steps towards improving the conditions of the inner cities because if we don't, more people will die and our country will die with them.

Kozol's book,Amazing Grace,was the most interesting book I have read this first year at Brandeis. It is such a sad story, but it makes the reader realize that things are really wrong in the United States today and that we need to do something about it. His details of the hardships that these poor people endure just reach out at the reader's heart.

One part that really stood out in my mind was when Kozol was speaking to Reverend Overall, and she was talking about the way people distance themselves from their emotions and the reality of the situation. She was talking about how she would love to have the owners of these rundown houses come down and actually look at the situation, instead of just sending a check. I truly believe that is a problem with our society. We do not want to hear about the truth, we just want to write a check and believe we are doing our part and helping out.

The idea that children live in an environment where people are killed, individuals die of AIDS, and they witness the use of drugs is horrible. The innocence of their childhood has been taken away from them. It hurts to hear a child say they are not happy. It hurts to hear that children are dying young before they even get a chance to experience life. It hurts to hear of such unjustice. Can we, as leaders of tomorrow, help to redress these problems in the South Bronx and the rest of America?

I was both horrified and moved by this book. It was very depressing but Kozol gave us a chance to see what life is really like for some of America's youngest citizens. The way he described the people in the South Bronx made me think twice about how fortunate I am. This brings me back to what I said in the Candide reaction paper, how people do not seem to appreciate what they possess.

Kozol explains how these poor people he met with were so generous. Even though they were poor, they were always willing to share. They would always ask him if he was hungry and invite him to supper and share what little they had with him. When he mentions this it reminds me so much of my mother. My mother is not an upper-class parent but she's always giving, no matter how complicated the situation is. If more people in this world were like this,poor people would have a chance of uplifting themselves from poverty and this world would be a better place.

Kozol wrote this book so that these children could be acknowledged. He says their voices are never heard because people think they're unimportant. Through this reading their voices were definitely heard, but what happens now? What can we do instead of just having pity?

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