Monday, January 19, 2015

Dr. King and Sethe's Best Thing (Blog Post #3)

Today, on the observation of Dr. King's birthday, I am thinking about the whitewashing of this holiday -- how Dr. King was assassinated on April 4th, 1968, in all probability because his political work, while retaining its peaceful and love-infused message, began to question the motives and goals of the United States' government.  In this speech that Dr. King made in 1967 in New York, he aligns poor people of all races in the United States with the citizens of Vietnam and poor people globally, in a furious protest of the Vietnam war.   He states his disgust with the U.S. government, for siding with colonizers and oppressors in international policy, as he questions their care for black peoples' lives, and poor peoples' lives in our country, .  Many of the points he makes are (unfortunately) still valid today, as well as relevant to Beloved.

As I'm thinking about the connections Dr. King's words make to the book, I return to Toni Morrison's thoughts about race -- that it is an idea that we have created, because it allowed the people in power to justify WHY they were in power, and that this idea we've created is now so deeply rooted into our society that we are having trouble moving on.  In a similar way, Sethe could not move on from her past at Sweet Home.  Near the end of the book, despite all that had happened and the many years that had passed since Beloved's murder, when she saw Ella's boss coming toward the house to potentially speak with Denver about work, Sethe's instincts and her history drove her back to Sweet Home and the schoolteacher, and she tried to hurt him.  As someone who had experienced a milder side of slavery, but then also the brutality that came with blackness in 1864, could Sethe ever heal from these wounds?  Can we, collectively, as a country, heal from the past that we are still struggling to reconcile, and whose ghosts are still haunting us, today?

Last week, rapper Kendrick Lamar was ridiculed by many in the hip-hop community for his statement about the Mike Brown case, the Eric Garner case, and the #blacklivesmatter movement, saying that black people are not going to be respected until "we learn to respect ourselves".  Near the end of the Beloved, when Paul D returns, Sethe is mourning the loss of Beloved, saying that "she was my best thing", to which Paul D responds that Sethe is her own best thing.  I see the ending of the book on this moment as Morrison's way of trying to inspire the self-love and self-respect that many former slaves were missing; not only did white people not see them as human, but many former slaves did not see or think of themselves as fully human, either.

What I'm asking you guys to do for this, your final blog entry of 1st semester, is to take the following quote from Dr. King's essay, and write a practice introduction and 1 body paragraph, connecting the quote to Beloved.  This is a practice for your final exam on Thursday (7th period) or Friday (3rd period), which is completing a practice ELA Regents exam.

Critical Lens Quote: 

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late." -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Remember, in your response, be sure to:

- Interpret the quote, and explain what it means to you
- Agree or disagree, explaining why
- List which texts you will connect to the quotation (in this case, Beloved)
- Write a body paragraph in which you select specific evidence from Beloved to support your interpretation of the quote, and discuss HOW the evidence connects to the quotation.

Sending love, peace and the urgency of now.
-Ms. Lauren

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Janée Soto
English 11
Critical Lens Essay
1/17/15


“… Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars” -MLK


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars” which states that when you are at your darkest place in life is when you can see clearly. At your lowest point is when you realize certain truths you could not see before, such as the “stars”. The stars symbolizing the light in the darkness, the beautiful uniqueness, and positivity that can only be seen when it is dark enough. I agree with this quote because sometimes in life, a person may not be able to handle a certain situation, but only when they are at their darkest hour. In their darkest hour they see the “stars”, the light, the very answer to why that situation occurred and why or why not they should get out of it or handle it. As well as in a literal sense you can only see stars at night which correlates along with the interpertation that sometimes in life only when it is dark enough is when you can actually see the light no matter the situation. This quote relates to “Beloved” by Toni Morison and “A Tree grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith through each of the characters from both books have endured difficult times and still see the light in the darkness and fight through it, in the end resulting in positivity.
In ‘A Tree grows in Brooklyn” By Betty Smith tells a story of a low class family and their struggles written in the third person. In this book the characterization of Katie Nolan relates directly to the quote in which she is a hard working, determined mother who has an alcoholic husband trying to take her kids out of poverty through education. In the book she has a warm heart full of life but endures the struggles of having a alcoholic husband, and struggling to pay rent, and then the death of her husband. She also endures the pain of not being able to give her children what they want along with a neighborhood pervert trying to make her daughter his victim. Katie begins to harden not having the warm heart that she once had, but in the end she sees the big picture of it all, you have to endure hard times to get to the good times. She realizes that before a rainbow comes the rain, and in her darkest hour of having a dead alcoholic husband, and no money she meets a man willing to give her a finically stable life for her and her family. This relates to the quote because Katie ,at her lowest, pitch black point in life is when a light came and her dark room became beautiful, full of stars.
In “Beloved” by Toni Morison the same concept is applied in which the characterization of Sethe as a hard working mother who loves her kids dearly has endured the horrors of slavery. Sethe’s daughter “Beloved” comes from the dead who she killed in order to save her from slavery because to Sethe, slavery is a fate worst than death. When realizing this she is thrilled, until it all goes downhill and eventually Beloved leaves, leaving Sethe at her lowest point. Eventually her lover Paul D shows her the light of it all the “stars” he tells her of a family, future and life now that the rain has passed, referring to Beloved. When it was dark enough for Sethe is when she could see the stars along with her daughter Denver, to handle their situation.

Anonymous said...

The characterization of both Katie Nolan in “A Tree grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith, and Sethe in “Beloved” by Toni Morison relates back to the quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which Katie seen the light or “stars” when things became dark for her and her family. When her room was dark is when she seen the beauty of all the chaos and things became clear in the end. In “Beloved” the characterization of Sethes falling out because of her daughter leaving her again yet she still finds the light of it all. She seen the clarity in the end that there are stars in the dark, and she found them through it all. Katie and Sethe both have endured mass amounts of emotional damage to a point in which they thought there was no return, but they found the stars when it was dark enough, and seen the positivity and beauty of all the pain.

Anonymous said...

I posted the critical lens essay I was told to do that was due by the end of the day(1/19/15), and couldn't find a email to post this essay on, so instead of not handing it in at all i simply posted it here, its janée btw

lolosita said...

Thanks Janee. My email is msfardig@gmail.com, but I will accept your critical lens this way, too!

Derrick RICHARD said...

What is quote means to me is that tomorrow is a new time and a new day. What it also means is that we persistent quality that requires the importance of swift action and it can be a confusing difficult problem or question. I agree with this because situations or things from people can make you say like wow this is very confusing or what this person is doing. I can connect this to the book Beloved because in the book and in the move, Beloved is a very strange person and she did things that was very strange to me. This relates to the quote because she was confusing person because she did so many strange things.

Anonymous said...

Devin said

"ONLY WHEN IT IS dark enough can you see the stars"

Dr Martin Luther King jr was the creator of this great quote in which he means that there is always a chance to get out of depressing states of mind dr Martin luther king jr and sethe are alike because they both had been through hard times
but hen still learn to make it through

Anonymous said...

Devin said

"ONLY WHEN IT IS dark enough can you see the stars"

Dr Martin Luther King jr was the creator of this great quote in which he means that there is always a chance to get out of depressing states of mind dr Martin luther king jr and sethe are alike because they both had been through hard times
but hen still learn to make it through

Anonymous said...

Devin said

"ONLY WHEN IT IS dark enough can you see the stars"

Dr Martin Luther King jr was the creator of this great quote in which he means that there is always a chance to get out of depressing states of mind dr Martin luther king jr and sethe are alike because they both had been through hard times
but hen still learn to make it through

Anonymous said...

only when it is dark enough can you see the stars-MLK

what dr.king means by this is,its only when you're going through something very hard and you're down that you can appreciate things more and see how blessed you truly are, sethe and MLK had very much in common , they were both very strong minded people who knew what they wanted, they both saw how cruel and stupid this world could be and they wanted out.
-Melodie

lolosita said...

Hey guys - I think folks were a little confused by this post, this is NOT where the practice critical lens essay should've been posted (that should've been emailed to msfardig@gmail.com) -- there was a DIFFERENT practice quote and all you were supposed to do here is write an introduction paragraph AND one body paragraph (2 paragraphs total), connecting the quotation in the blog post to Beloved, and using a specific example from the book to support your opinion. This was meant as a practice for the final exam -- but you can also complete it over the weekend to practice for Monday's Regents Exam. Don't forget the exam is on Monday, Jan 26th at 1:00pm!! Thanks!

Gloria García said...



"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late." -Martin Luther King Jr.

To put differently he states that you have to be ahead of time, don't stop to think about whether you should do it or not because once you decide it would be too late. Martin Luther King Jr. focuses on the idea of procrastination.I support this quote due to its meaning, you should never procrastinate in life. One book of literature that represents this idea is "Beloved" by Toni Morrison, where Sethe (an African American slave) has escaped slavery in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio which is a free state , later on Sethe kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a group of white men arrive to Ohio to return them to Sweet Home (Kentucky plantation where Sethe had escaped from). In the next coming years Sethe's house is haunted by the presence of an abusive ghost which is her daughter.

In "Beloved", when Sethe finds out that her daughter Beloved has come back from the death after being murder with her own hands she is overwhelmed with emotions. To celebrate the returning of her daughter she spends all the money she had to buy her stuff like sweets, a baby doll, strings and more, she also arrives late to her work for the first time and gets fired for it. In the end Sethe has spend all her money, lost her job and has nothing to eat all due to living in a fantasy. In the other hand Denver represents this quote by moving forward with her life by finding a job to provide for them, she suddenly becomes the man in the family.

Anonymous said...

Janée said ...

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late." by Martin Luther King Jr. states that there are certain things that need to be done, yet its time to get it done is over due. He is specifically referring to the dehumanization of African Americans. Expressing to the world that the discrimination and hate towards the race should have died out a long time ago. It should have never continued throughout the years, and now there is a certain urgency to stop it now because were already late as people.This lens is valid because throughout the years people have continued to humiliate a race and now the roots are so deep in the world that the time has passed to fix these issues. This can be seen especially in the novel "Beloved" in which although Sethe is a free slave she still fears white people to a point of her own destruction because she is so accustomed to their cruelty.
The novel Beloved centers around a free runaway slave by the name of Sethe. Although she is free she has unhealed wounds from her past slave master by the name of schoolteacher. Sethe for generations being mistreated by the race, see them as a threat to a point in which she kills her daughter to protect her from their cruelty. Sethe displays these natural feelings towards the end of the book, which she attacks her former employer although he had no intentions of hurting her.