Open Letter Pitch to New York Times Magazine

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Dear Jake Silverstein, Editor of New York Times Magazine;

 

I’ve been reading your previous week’s Magazine and saw that you were looking for someone to fill in a column. My name is Amaia van Dommelen, and I’m a vivid reader and full-time writer, as well as a true admirer of the New York Times Magazine. Over the past ten years, I’ve published dozens of books and poems, and I continue to update my blog every Tuesday.

 

A few days ago, I experienced the ferocious march in Charlottesville, first hand, from which I extracted my feelings and questions and converted them into an Open Letter to Liam. In this public letter, I was able to introduce a mixture of modern, controversial events with a little taste of storytelling. Writing to my classmate, Liam, I prove to others that stepping out of your comfort zone and putting your questions and doubts out into the public, you’re able to express your inner self and get things off your chest. 

 

Want something modern, something unique, something fresh? My writing has uplifted thousands and I’ll promise you it will touch millions if I’m granted the slot in your magazine.

 

My open letter is approximately 570 words, perfect to replace the empty column in the September issue. I would gladly have a coffee with you to discuss this topic further. I am available Wednesday through Saturday from 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm.

 

I hope to hear from you soon!

 

Sincerely,

 

Amaia van Dommelen

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Open Letter to Liam

Dear Liam,

 

A few days ago I was sitting in my living room, sipping on hot chocolate, when I flicked on the TV to see the chaos that was building up five streets away from my own apartment.

 

I’m an American college student and I’m currently finishing my last year of studying. I live alone in my small yet cozy apartment, apart from my best friend who comes to visit now and then. My building is near a peaceful park where I go to jog and to pet dogs. Just like every Saturday I come home and make myself a mug of hot chocolate and proceed to turn on the television.

 

But when I turned on that TV, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Right here, in Charlottesville, Virginia, mobs of what seemed like angry people crowded the streets with lit torches and vicious expressions drawn on their faces. What was going on? At first, I thought it was a joke, a reenactment of some sort, but after literally standing there for about five minutes, I set my mug down and grabbed my scarf. 

 

Rushing through the traffic, most likely caused by this march, I dodged and made my way to the indicated area on the television, where I was confronted by a crowd of people yelling at the top of their lungs.

 

As I mingled with the horde of bystanders, I watched the event in awe, but then it struck me. Out of the large crowd, I realized that a great amount of the unknown faces were still glowing with youth. Teenagers, younger than I, were marching alongside adults, yelling just as loud and ferocious.

 

And that made me wonder. Who are these teenagers? Did they decide to come here themselves? Why would children younger than me join in such a risky and violent protest? Do they know what they’re getting themselves into?

 

I keep watching, eyes moving from one face to the other. And that’s when I see you, Liam. In the center of the parade, you’re there, shouting phrases no one should ever be passionate about screaming aloud. Just like me, you’re in your last year of college and should have more than enough on your mind. Even though we’re not friends, I’ve seen your face so many times in the hallway. Weren’t you the one to run for student council president? Such an enthusiastic guy. Anyways, you march by, too focussed to even notice me in the crowd, staring with my mouth wide open. So why Liam? Why did you risk yourself and portray so much hate against others?

 

As much as I agree with activism and engagement, especially amongst us, the youth, I still don’t understand why all this energy and effort is gone to waste into something so destructive and harmful, whilst it could be going towards a more worthy objective; something worth our time and devotion.

 

That night I got home, disappointed and startled. Voices like yours played on repeat in my head and kept me up all night. And that’s when I knew I had to do something about it. I knew I had to transform my frustration into action.

 

First thing this morning, is when I wrote this letter and submitted it.

 

I know there are other people out there, others that feel the same way. I want other voices to be heard as well, voices like mine. If we stay quiet, only their side of the story will be heard. And expressing your thoughts to the public is the first step to change.

 

 

Sincerely,

Amaia van Dommelen

Crimson Red Delights

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original

Candy-coated fruits: sappy,

Pulpy berries that are

Bittersweet

To the touch.

Hand-picked, crimson red delights.

Plump.

 

Teeny black seeds coating the outside like

Scattered stars in the

Night sky,

Flavorless and irrelevant

 

Strawberries,

Licked and

Groomed like a ruby by the rays of

sweet sunshine

 

The unmistakable aroma that

Tingles your nose.

A fragrance so sweet,

One could nibble on the air to taste it.

The smell of flowers and

Picnics,

Daydreaming and dozing,

Laughter and blushed cheeks.

 

Mouths,

Dripping with a luscious sap,

Sticky, syrupy sap.

The smacking of lips,

Tongues curling,

Swishing to catch the

Last drop.

 

Mouths dyed maroon,

Teeth stained pink,

The brand-new, white t-shirts now

Rosey

Like the fluffs hanging above by invisible threads

known as clouds, reflecting the sun’s

Last breath.

 

 

All Hell Broke Loose in America over the Weekend…

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All hell

broke loose

in America over the weekend

due to protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

 

In short,

white supremacists

descended on Charlottesville

to protest the city’s plan to

take down

Confederate monuments.

 

But the demonstrations

quickly

got violent, as the white supremacists

intimidated

and

attacked counter-protesters —

and then a car,

driven by a

man with the white supremacists,

rammed

into counter-protesters.

 

Things

quickly spun out of control as protesters and counter-protesters

faced off and

clashed around the city.

 

Eventually,

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe

declared a state of

emergency and police told the crowds to

disperse.

 

 

A “found poem”, inspired by the article below

Here’s a link to the Original Article

 

Vox News (Aug 14, 2017, 11:00am)

Charlottesville protests: a quick guide to the violent clashes this weekend

 

All hell broke loose in America over the weekend due to protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In short, white supremacists descended on Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to take down Confederate monuments. But the demonstrations quickly got violent, as the white supremacists intimidated and attacked counter-protesters — and then a car, driven by a man with the white supremacists, rammed into counter-protesters.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s reaction — or lack thereof — became a major story in its own right after he refused to condemn the white supremacists, in particular, initially blaming “many sides” for hatred, bigotry, and violence. The statement seemed like yet another example of Trump pandering to white supremacists.

If you’re still catching up on a head-turning series of events, here’s a more detailed breakdown of what’s happened so far.

 

Protesters clashed in Charlottesville, and a reported Nazi sympathizer killed a counter-protester
  • White supremacists went to Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to tear down Confederate monuments, particularly a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. This has become a hot-button topic over the past several years, as civil rights groups and protesters have condemned the monuments as symbols of a Confederacy that fought to maintain slavery and white supremacy in America.
  • On Friday, some of the white supremacist protesters — made up of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and members of the Ku Klux Klan — brandished torches and marched onto the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. When they were met by counter-protesters, they surrounded and eventually attacked the counter-protesters, triggering brawls.
  • On Saturday, white supremacists planned to hold a bigger rally — dubbed “Unite the Right” — at noon.
  • Things quickly spun out of control as protesters and counter-protesters faced off and clashed around the city. Eventually, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency and police told the crowds to disperse.

Rites of Passage Reflection

1. When do you feel like a grown-up?” “What affirms this?”

As the eldest daughter in the family, I have always been the one to “look out” for my younger brothers. When I was little, I remember my parents always traveling. If it weren’t my mom for a week, my dad would be gone for three, but they always took turns. Therefore, ever since I was little I’ve had the responsibility to play the part of a part-time parent, feeling the need to fulfill their small gaps.

When I became 10 I remember that on my birthday I got my very first pocket knife. At this age, I’ve never owned anything that was truly mine. I had no phone or iPod, like all my friends, but I didn’t mind. Having something just for myself was fascinating at the time. I remember being very careful with where I would put it and I would always carry it with me. Having personal belongings helped introduce myself to the consequences of being independent. If I lost it, it was gone, and that was that, but luckily I took such good care of it, that it never left my sight.

As the years gradually went by I would feel the need to be the one in charge of things for I felt the need to become my sibling’s role models. It never really felt like an option, nor did it feel obligated; if anything, it just kinda happened. It all started when I was told that I could be the one “in charge” of my brothers when we were home alone. I started making decisions and taking care of my brothers ever since.

Nowadays it all seems normal. I’m the older one and therefore do the most chores, make dinner, help them with their homework and take care of them. At times this can be overwhelming of course, but I’ve learned that they need me. I have no clue what it would be like having an older brother or sister, but I do know that the least I can do is have their backs.

 

2. Do we still need rites of passage? Do we need the physical and mental ordeals? Do we need the formality? 

Growing up can be challenging, yet once you reach certain points you can’t help but feel accomplished. I believe that it is therefore very important to keep certain rites of passages in practice, allowing us young adults, who are transitioning through a tough part of life, to look back and feel proud of ourselves. Whether these are huge or even minor, I believe that this helps an individual’s mental growth for they can always go back to see what they’ve accomplished so far and drive themselves forward.

Whether there should be physical as well as mental ordeals really depend on the culture and the practices, but coming from me, I don’t think it should be mandatory to put ourselves to the test on a risky level. The formality shouldn’t always be a factor of such significance, either. This will always vary from one family to another and therefore shouldn’t be necessary. If they want to make it all serious and formal, perfect, and if not, sounds great too. Like I mentioned before, different families have distinct ways of celebrating and tackling these rites of passages and that’s the way it should be.

 

3. Do the old rites of passages still apply, or do we need entirely new ones that make sense in today’s world? If so, what would they look like?

I believe that old rites of passages should be kept. These rites of passages are original and were and still are the ones that were practiced centuries ago. Taking part in such an antique rite makes it special. In today’s world, everything has advanced at its own pace, including ourselves. Even though others might think it’s about time to “renew” these rites of passages, I still agree that we should hold on to our past. These have more of a meaning and can allow our pure culture and memories arouse.

 

4. Have you gone through a rite of passage?

Unlike many people who have gone through very formal and largely celebrated rites of passages, I never took part in anything that grand. Throughout my lifetime, I have always had small things here and there that counted as mini rites of passages. I remember first being allowed to go walking to my friend’s house all alone, fixing my own bike, hanging out with friends without a time limit and many other small things that came through the years.

In the future, though, I will be allowed to travel to my birth country (Dominican Republic), which I haven’t visited for the past 13 years, once I’m 15. This is our own version of the world-known Quinceañera. Instead of having a huge party and dressing up and dancing alongside my dad, I will travel alone with my grandmother.

Tankas – Poetry Friday

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young blood

 

Youth; us kids that roam

the streets like stray cats, prowling.

Slip through the crisp dusk,

grainy silhouettes traced, smudged

on the forsaken sidewalk.

 

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seeping away

 

Gleaming eyes; shiver.

Silence, a bitter absence.

Ready to crumble

Locked: broken past, torn future

Past, like a house of frail cards.

 

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Infinite

 

roads, traced on the map,

carved into the earth’s frail skin;

like tattoos, painful.

Wheels grind the pebbles beneath.

Wanderlust. Thirsty heart. Drive.

 

IMG_0143

raw nights

 

Shadows: witnesses

of our presence; company.

Our eyes like candles,

Guiding us through the brisk night.

Pristine air, fresh, almost sweet…

Brave New World – Satire

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Questions:

What is satire?

  • Satire is when someone uses humor, exaggeration, or irony to depict and give an opinion about a serious issue or matter. Satire generally criticizes people’s stupidity or the foolishness of an institution / larger group.

 

What is the tone of satire? (Horatian, Juvenalian)

  • Horatian is gentle and aims to correct the issue through sympathetic laughter. Horatian satire criticizes issues by drawing generally funny images. Juvenalian, on the other hand, is more biting and harsh; it aims to correct the evil in society by attacking it through ridicule. Juvenalian evokes severe feelings. The tone of satire I used for my drawing was Horatian. I was aiming for people to sympathetically giggle to the image so that they can understand the flaw that I’m trying to emphasize with a more gentle approach. My drawing isn’t biting nor does it attack the issue with anger. By making mine look like a newspaper clipping and magnifying the words to stretch the truth, I’ve been able to make it purposefully absurd.

 

What institution, practice or group is being satirized?

  • The practice that is being satirized in my image is hypnopaedia, also known as sleep-teaching. This practice is introduced in the novel as a method of conditioning children, under the age of sixteen, to memorize phrases unconsciously. These phrases are repeated to them 100 times, three nights a week for an entire year. Thanks to the repetitions they are fed, these sentences are cemented into their minds and those chained words are what they revolve their lives around. My satire is also making fun of all the “subjects” it teaches. What I did is state the obvious, or in this case, the truth that the government is hiding from the apathetic populace. The government is hypnotizing them with these phrases to get them to not as questions, follow instructions, and kill dreams.

 

What method is being used to construct the satire?

  •  The technique that I used to construct my satire is exaggeration. I made my satire look as if it were a newspaper ad clipping and then I used words to exaggerate the true depiction of hypnopaedia in the book. I stated the hidden truth to why the government put this practice forth, making it humorous. “COME BUY THE NEW HYPNOPAEDIC RADIO!! NOW FOR ONLY YOUR THOUGHTS AND INDIVIDUALITY!” This little quotation is revealing the government’s reasons for obligating their people to listen to these discs but through a very exaggerated way. I emphasized the word ONLY as if your individuality and thoughts were as worthless as a grain of sand. I exaggerated and stretched the words so that the faults are clearly seen.

“But I don’t want comfort. I want poetry. I want danger. I want freedom. I want goodness. I want sin.” – Brave New World

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“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto the World State goes by. Using these words as a mold, they’ve shaped a world where people are treated as lab rats, derived and produced in test tubes, to do nothing else but work their entire lives for their own greedy benefit. In the novel Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, the narrator follows the protagonist, Bernard Marx: an inquisitive and rebellious man, who is rumored to have more alcohol in his blood-surrogate than the average, as an explanation for his “queer” behavior. He seems to be the only one who’s unique in the entire population. Living in a society where people are stripped from their individuality and persona, Bernard is the first to conceive the faults of what they call home. As he tries to raise awareness to the apathetic populace, including a clueless yet average girl called Lenina, he struggles to push the truth forth. Through the process, they encounter John, a young man from the Savage Reservation who clandestinely cracks a hole in the impenetrable, “civilized” society.

Just like in many other dystopian societies, the government aims to erase emotions and possibly hazardous feelings that individuals could have. The only thing the government wants in this book is that people conform to their norms and don’t ask any questions. “Everyone is happy nowadays,” Lenina recites in the novel from her hypnopaedic conditioning. That’s the lie that they’re all fed. All castes believe that they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re lucky to be in the class they are in. Apart from these hypnotizing phrases that are stapled into their brains, the government has also popularized soma. This drug allows individuals to escape from reality and mask themselves from any truth they want to forget. This drug doesn’t have any side effects such as headaches and therefore are so popular. Soma also allows people to hide from their problems instead of facing them, which is just what the government wants. By using soma, people can feel happy all the time, no sadness nor anger or even pain, just happiness. After all, that’s what they want right?

To “protect” the populace from any thought-provoking information they could possibly find in books, the government in Brave New World prohibited any reading, except for certain essential texts that won’t contradict or question anything about the way things are run in the community. Knowledge is a limited thing that is categorized as “dangerous” by the World Leaders. Only specific, and most likely, censored books are passed down to the Alpha’s and Beta’s for general reference, but the World Leaders were cautious enough to not introduce any bizarre books with foreign ideas or opinions. For the castes below the Alphas or Betas, the government had come to a conclusion that the only way to keep them away from any books is to scar them for life. What they do is take a batch of toddlers and put them in a room where they’re introduced to two new things: books and plants. Out of curiosity, these little babies crawl towards the objects and once they start playing with them, they electrocute them until they starting bawling. All this just to teach them a lesson that if they come in contact with either books or nature, they’ll get hurt real bad.

The books that can be found in the civilized community are modern and don’t contain any information about the past. Everything, as they know of, is stated in the year After Ford, or A.F. Since the government had wanted to start from complete scratch, they’ve also introduced this new religion where everyone worships Ford. Henry Ford became famous for perfecting the assembly line as well as mass production and in the society they molded, humans are mass produced in assembly lines as if they were supplies on a product shelf.

In the civilized society, the World State had decided to put forth a strict social class system that rigidly defines and diverges groups of people. Humans are classified into a structure called the caste system, where those at the top are smarter, better looking and just a little more unique as individuals. The lower the caste, the uglier and dumber they get. Since birth, these castes are taught to despise each other, as a result of the repetitions they’re fed every night. Each caste is obligated to wear a distinct color and fulfill caste-specific tasks. At the top you’ll find the Alphas, followed by the Betas, then Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. All castes are mass produced by the government except for the Alphas and Betas, the privileged ones. The government has eliminated a very dangerous thing: greed. By making each caste believe they’ve always had what they wanted and that they’re content with what they’re doing, there has never been any greed. Deltas are happy that they don’t work as hard as the Alphas and Betas are thankful they don’t have to drag things around all day like the Epsilons.

Stability is one of the words that forms part of the World State’s motto: “Community, Identity, Stability.” That’s what the government wants in their society, but to achieve that, they’ve had to sacrifice several things. The World State had decided that the only way to achieve social stability is by assembling a hierarchal pyramid. What they mean by that is a caste system. They’ve decided to strictly define these castes so that there isn’t any social instability. Another thing they’ve put into practice is using the Bokanovsky process, a fictional process where they can create 96 identical twins from only one embryo. These “batches” of 96 are also a huge part of their road to stability. The second thing they sacrificed is the identity of individuals. The “identity” in the motto refers more to the castes that they’re classified into and the mindsets they’re manipulated to have. They’ve made individuals but multiplied them to make whole populations. These genetically identical individuals are less likely to spark riots and conflict, which is just what the World State needs. Their definition of stability is minimizing conflict and diminish any change. Another major aspect they’ve sacrificed is freedom. Mustapha Mond, one of the several World Leaders, believes that freedom has to be sacrificed in order to attain happiness. He believes that if you take someone’s freedom away, they will be thankful for what they have and not ask for something they know they can’t have.

In the civilized society, the government has accomplished to make people social in every way possible. Privacy almost seems to be a fictional thing in their community. Individuals don’t have secrets and always are part of the crowd. Since all castes have been conditioned to despise nature in every which way, they’ve always had the tendency to stay together within the city like a pack of scared wolves. Solidarity is seen as “queer” by others and even unhealthy in a sense, as it’s emphasized as something unnatural. The importance of being part of the community is stressed through discouraging individuality. “When the individual feels, the community reels,” is an example of another sleep-taught phrase, which indicates that if an individual were to start catching feelings, they would bring the community into danger and make it collapse just by presenting their thoughts to the crowd. The government was also able to achieve a relationship-free community. No true communication is allowed to develop between individuals and any bonds are broken so that individuals can’t feel attached to others. Bernard tries to open up to Lenina, but by nature, Lenina shuts it back down by pushing his words away. Most importantly, though, family, the strongest bond of them all, is targeted and torn apart. Without genetic bonds or relationships, individuals are vulnerable and become easy targets for the government.

It seems to be that the slogans that are cemented into their minds are the only thing individuals in this hand-crafted world live by. Their entire childhood, children are compelled to learn through a method called hypnopaedia. Instead of going to school during the day, children are taught in their sleep. Hypnopedia is a method in which sentences or phrases are repeated over and over again in one’s sleep until the individual can unconsciously recall it. Through this, the government has unlocked their way into the mind of individuals and have achieved to brainwash them. All of these phrases are chosen purposefully by the government to trick the population into conforming to their rules. An example of a phrase that’s pumped into their heads is “A gramme is always better than a damn.” This implies that it’s always better to take a gramme of soma to get rid of anger, sadness, bitterness or any other feeling than to face it. Apart from that one, countless others talk about how they should always retreat to soma in emotion-provoking situations; “A gramme in time saves nine,” “One cubic centimetre saves ten gloomy sentiments.” Not all revolve around soma; “Everybody’s happy nowadays” misleads and tricks them into believing that everything in their society is perfect, a place where everyone’s happy and nothing could be better. But what these people aren’t aware of is that it’s all an illusion, a cut-out.

In the beginning of the novel, Bernard Marx is the character that presents the flaws of the society on a small scale. Through his eyes, one can finally pry out the negatives of their contemporary lives and are introduced to the first contrasting point of view. Bernard seems to be the only one in his society to notice something’s just not right. Maybe it’s the extra alcohol in his blood-surrogate that sparked curiosity in him. Who knows? Bernard feels like he doesn’t belong, and therefore finds connections with the outside world, nature in this case. While everyone finds their way to surround themselves in masses of people, Bernard escapes to the ocean at night to reflect on what’s on his mind. After getting to know Bernard pretty well, a new character comes into the spotlight. Bernard travels with Lenina to the Savage Reservation in hopes trying something new and completely wild, and to his surprise meets this young man called John the Savage. John has always been an outcast, even in his own society, and when Bernard decides to bring him back to London with him, the way things are run in the civilized society are nothing like what his mother had told him in her stories and shocks him. John goes completely insane and starts a riot by violently throwing soma out the hospital window in hopes of pushing the truth forth to the enslaved population. Wistfully, the witnesses only end up taking more soma to forget it ever happened and John, alongside Bernard and Helmholtz, are sent to Mustapha Mond who decides to send them far away to avoid any other dangerous acts. While Bernard and Helmholtz are sent all the way to Iceland, John is given the option to live on the outskirts and takes that option. Apart from the fact that he’s so far away from the city, he somehow still manages to grab the attention of hundreds.

Brave New World presents an uncommon image of the future where one mighty government gains power and ends up taking complete control of the entire society. Aldous Huxley portrays a future in which a group of leaders have decided to dominate the minds of millions, not with violence or fear, but with soma, a hallucinatory drug that doesn’t have any side effects. The leaders had to sacrifice various things in order to create an illusion of a perfect society for the population. They’ve managed to brainwash individuals by chaining phrases into their minds and making them believe that “Everyone is happy nowadays.”

There are several aspects that Aldous Huxley was criticizing from our contemporary society that he affirmed would impact us negatively if we continue to handle that issue the way it is right now. One of the major ones is that our technology and science is advancing so fast, that soon there won’t be any human relationships. Society will have no space left for true human interaction. In his novel, you can clearly see that the relationships between characters are superficial and that nobody can truly consider anyone as a friend. Aldous Huxley is also critiquing sex. In the novel, sex isn’t taking as anything serious, if anything it’s just for fun. He’s noticing that sex is slowly becoming something that is being valued less and less every day. Apart from that he also touches upon how the government has unlimited power. In the story, one mighty government rises above all and takes complete control of everything. Nowadays, most governments revolve their actions around the fact that it will benefit them in the end. If it isn’t for their benefit, they’ll eliminate it. If this continues to grow, the government will eventually start taking drastic and inhumane measures just for their greedy benefit.

Aldous Huxley’s world-known book, Brave New World, is a dystopian novel that presents the readers with a frightening perception of what the future could look like. From being mass-produced in bottles as identical twins to taking a drug to lock our vulnerable selves away from any emotions, Aldous Huxley has created a world where family doesn’t exist and individuality is a joke. Through this engaging story, I believe that Huxley has does an admirable job at presenting a feasible future through his clever wording. Brave New World is a must on your book list.

Press Release – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

Press Release – Perks of Being a Wallflower

·      Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

·      Author: Stephen Chbosky

·      Illustration:

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Book Summary:
Just like the books Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen by James Howe and The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a coming-of-age novel that follows the protagonist through his/her struggle whilst going through many changes and challenges that they are faced with during their painstaking journey to adulthood. The book is an epistolary novel, which is composed of only letters written from the protagonist’s perspective. The letters were addressed to an anonymous receiver, and Charlie didn’t include his location or what the actual names of the characters in the book were. These individual letters were woven together by Stephen Chbosky to portray the hardship and puzzling life of being a teenager.

 

 

This novel focuses on a 15-year-old boy named Charlie, who at first was really shy and unquestionably naive. After having lost his only friend Michael, he nervously starts high school. Charlie keeps his participation and socializing with his classmates to a minimum, but gets drawn into reading by his Language and Literature teacher. Trying to find fictional characters to relate to, he slowly realizes that he has some sort of mental issues which make him have anxiety as well as anger attacks. Charlie experiments with drugs and alcohol to try and cope with those frightful outbursts but realizes the harmful truth behind the choices he made. Throughout the entire novel, Charlie learns the importance of friendship, family, and soundtracks as he goes through the exhausting and demanding transition from childhood to adulthood.

 

Protagonist – “On Shoulders” by Chef’special      (Youtube)

 

 

Charlie, the protagonist of the novel, is a very young and curious boy who goes through a lot during his year of high school. He struggled at first and he felt like it was “burning fire, crashing lightning” when he took his “first steps on the storyline”. Charlie is also a wallflower and isn’t part of the ‘the current’ of the crowd. The song goes: “That river don’t flow for me, no, that river is cold” describing how Charlie doesn’t like ‘swimming’ in the chilly river and how he doesn’t feel that he’s part of it. The chorus then goes: “I know I don’t know that much,” showing how Charlie is naive and feels clueless compared to his older friends. During the entire novel he’s “trying to embrace it all” but he still believes that “even now [he’s] so much older, it still feels like [he’s] on [their] shoulders”. Charlie feels that he depends on his friends for support and that he can’t do anything without them.

Antagonist – “Spirits” by The Strumbellas      (Youtube)
The antagonist in this novel is Charlie’s mental issues and society as they clash against each other, trying to fit like a puzzle. Charlie doesn’t know what exactly is wrong with him, but he does know that “something inside has changed” because he was molested as a child. It’s hard for him to fit into society’s teenage ‘mold’ especially when he’s got things he doesn’t understand going on in his head like “guns” and “spirits” that “won’t go”. He faces depression, anxiety and anger issues and tries to find people to relate to, but instead Bill introduces him to books. He draws a conclusion that “we’re all strange, and maybe we don’t want to change” but he still feels he’s somehow different; like he’s “spent a lot of nights on the run, and [he] thinks, ‘oh, like I’m lost and can’t be found’”.
Setting – “Imagine” by Jack Johnson    (Youtube)

 

 

In the novel, Charlie lives in the suburbs of Pennsylvania where he’s surrounded by a close community with not much of a significant past. No big events are found where he lives, all that really happens is between his friends, school, and relatives. “Imagine there’s no Heaven, no Hell below us and above us is only sky” shows how Charlie makes the most of what he’s got. He’s “living for today” in his hometown like “there’s no [other] countries” he wishes to live in. Through the book, Charlie mentions a few key locations like the cafe, his school, the theater and the tunnel which make up his town.

Story Event – “Drops of Jupiter” by Train      (Youtube)

 

 

In the beginning of the novel, Charlie describes how Sam is gorgeous and that he wants to get into a relationship with her. “Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair” describes how she has an unfamiliar look to her, like his view on her changed once he realized that Sam doesn’t see him in that way. Charlie feels disappointed but then faces the truth and tries to feel happy for Sam and Craig. “Tell me did you sail across the sun, did you travel to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded, and that heaven is overrated” goes the song, showing how deep inside Charlie is hoping she’ll regret having ‘traveled so far’ just to realize that Craig’s ‘light’ isn’t as bright as she expected. Charlie then wonders “did Venus really blow your mind, was it everything you wanted to find” or “did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there.” Then Charlie looks back at the past, painfully recalling all they had done together; “Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken, your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong. Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance five-hour phone conversation, the best soy latte that you ever had, and me.”

Conflict – “Invisible” by 5 Seconds of Summer      (Youtube)

 

 

The conflict in this book is when Charlie struggles to fit in and feels like he doesn’t belong. Charlie slowly passes days at his new high school but feels like every day is “Another [ordinary] day of painted walls and football on the tv, no one sees me.” Charlie feels different than the rest, especially because he doesn’t “participate” like Bill, his teacher, told him to do so. His only true friend in the very start of the novel was Michael, but he committed suicide, and charlie couldn’t move on; “wasted days, dreaming of the times I know I can’t get back, seems I just lost track.” Even when he started bonding with some of his classmates, charlie “just walked away” afraid he wasn’t worthy enough of being a good friend. “Who am I, who am I, when i don’t know myself,” Charlie thought when he was lost and confused because he couldn’t figure out who he really was and what he wanted. He felt alone and “Invisible” during this harsh period in the novel.

Resolution – “Fly Away” by 5 Seconds of Summer     (Youtube)

 

 

After Charlie went to Sam’s house along with all his friends for a farewell party, he found out that his aunt had harassed him when he was young and suffered tremendously. He woke up in a mental hospital and only then Charlie realizes that he is ready to take on what the future is going to throw at him. “I won’t waste another day, wishing this would fade away, running but not looking back”, describes how Charlie has accepted his past but wants to move on, not letting the past stop him from living in the present. Charlie wants to “take [his] heart to the end of the world, and fly away tonight.” While at the mental hospital, Charlie’s friends came over to visit and he then became aware of that he truly did have friends and family who cared about him and who were there to support him.

Theme – “Photograph” by Ed Sheeran      (Youtube)

 

 

A major theme that was evident in the book was friendship. In the novel, Charlie realizes that there are different kinds of love, but the most powerful can be the love and passion that you feel towards your friends. “Loving can hurt” for sure, but Charlie knows that “loving can heal, loving can mend your soul”. Charlie realizes that friends can be like family and family is forever. Charlie wishes he could “keep this love in a photograph” every time they “made memories [only] for [themselves]. Where [they’re] eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken and time’s forever frozen still”. Without friends by his side, Charlie would be torn apart and after having had a taste of what it’s like, he wishes he could stay friends forever with the people who were once strangers to him.

Symbol – “Car Radio” by Twenty One Pilots         (Youtube)

 

 

A very powerful symbol that is used in this novel is music and the soundtracks Charlie makes. When struggling with something challenging and unpredictable, a way to get out of the stress he’s in, Charlie listens to music to escape the present. Without music, Charlie is “forced to deal with what [he] feels” because “there is no distraction to mask what is real”. Music helps him cover up his emotions. “Oh my, too deep. Please stop thinking. I liked it better when my car had sound,” shows how Charlie would go crazy without music. He would “have these thoughts, so often [he] ought” about insane or unhealthy things because he wouldn’t know how to release all his anger, sadness, confusion, and loneliness. “Somebody stole my car radio and now I just sit in silence. Sometimes quiet is violence”. Charlie needs music, or he wouldn’t be able to cope with any of what has happened to him.

 

Banned Books Propaganda

 

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Propaganda Technique

Propaganda is a persuasion technique that many advertisers use to convince an audience to think or act a certain way. These techniques are very powerful because they manipulate your mind psychologically to change your thoughts and think it was your own choice. The techniques vary from fear to name calling to having a celebrity recommend a product. For my poster, I decided to use the Bandwagon technique. Bandwagon is a technique in which they compare an individual to think or act the way other people are, usually by including majorities or numbers.

 

By comparing individuals to a large group of people who read banned books, my intention is for them to think about themselves and why they are not part of that group. They will assume that since so many people do it, it is the right thing to do. Another reason why I chose to use Bandwagon is because I want to use a technique that isn’t biased with one point of view, but a technique that suggests true facts that you can’t argue with. Other techniques like Card Stacking and Bad Logic often hide reality. I am looking to avoid false information by using facts that can’t be proven wrong and that are logical as well.

 

Bandwagon Propaganda Questions

Who is the target audience? What evidence suggests this?

  • My target audience is people who don’t yet read banned books. I am aiming mostly at teenagers and adults by using few words with colors that will catch their attention. Younger kids might not understand the vocabulary and they are more likely to be attracted by pictures than anything else. This will also will be hung up in the hallways for the middle and high school floor. On top of that, the age group that I am aiming this at is a group that is encouraged and starts reading books on their own, apart from mandatory books that are part of the curriculum.


What language is used to suggest that reading banned books is good?

  • The language of the poster suggests that individuals should read banned books for two main reasons. The first reason is because “everyone else is reading” which tells the individual that since so many people are doing it, it’s probably a good idea. The other reason is that there is a different section where it says that “banning books is banning thoughts, voices, and knowledge”. This tells the audience that banning books is not correct, and therefore they are told to go against it by “breaking” the rules and read them.


Examine font styles, colors, language and page layout. What do they suggest about the product, and how do they strengthen the power of the Bandwagon technique?

  • The fonts and style of the poster were chosen carefully to represent the message that I wanted to get across. For the most significant words, I made the font thick and stand out. I increased the size to make is seem visually more emphasized than the other less important words. I also used capital letters and eye-catching but impactful fonts. A key component that I used as well was colors. My color scheme consisted mainly of warm colors. The background was beige to make it feel comforting and cozy, and the book icons were warm tones of purple, blue, green, and orange. These colors represent happiness. The fonts are gray instead of black, besides two words which are deep red.
  • The phrase that asks “what about you” is in two different colors and fonts. “YOU” is in capital, dark-grey bold letters. The size is also bigger and the word looks set apart. This makes the word more interesting and the people think about why the word is set slightly apart from the rest of the text. They will then think about the meaning of the word “you” and that will give them the idea that it’s all their own choice. Another very important word that shows what Bandwagon is, is the word “Everyone”. This word is the same as the word you. It allows bypassers to link the two words together visually and mentally they compare the meanings of both words. They then think about how they are compared to everyone else.


What other observations do you have about the way Bandwagon propaganda is used?

  • Bandwagon is all about the bigger picture. Its main point is to compare individuals to a larger group of people. The very first word starts by directly introducing their comparison. This makes it very evident and persuasive, for the reader.

 

 

Banned Book Explanation:

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower; yet another “banned” novel

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a Stephen Chbosky novel that perceives the confusing, demanding, and spectacular reality of being a teenager through letters. This coming of age novel follows a 15-year-old boy, named Charlie, through his struggles and epiphanies. Like many other bildungsroman novels, the protagonist comes across many coming-of-age characteristics, such as loss of innocence, testing boundaries and conflicts. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that has often been challenged by many parents, in fact, it has shown up “on the American Library Association’s annual list of  Top Ten Challenged / Banned Books seven times since 2007,” as Maren Williams from the Comic Book Lead Defense Fund (CBLDF) affirms when discussing the book.

The most recent incident of Perks being challenged was in April 2015. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a book that was requested to be removed off of the list of required books that had to be read by high school freshmen in Wallingford, Connecticut by a parent. The parent, Jean-Pierre, complained about how graphic the book was and the way in which it depicted homosexuality, sex, masturbation, and the use of alcohol and drugs. “I don’t believe in censorship, but I believe in appropriateness,” Bolat reasoned in an American Booksellers Association article written by Chris Finan. This challenge was a month-long conflict between the parent and the school board. The book ended up being removed until the decision was made which will affect the high schoolers next year.

Based off of my own readings, many controversial issues were evident throughout the text. There were many graphic parts of the story that could’ve been disturbing to the readers. Also, the use of drugs and smoking is mentioned as a common thing in the storyline which might be something a parent will want their children to avoid reading about. Several bad role models and illegal things were introduced as well and it can be intricate for students to identify the wrongs and rights in these types of books, I believe. Many of these issues that were discussed might have been entitled age inappropriate by parents because they want to “protect” their children from the dangerous reality, it seems. The Perks of Being a Wallflower included many common coming-of-age themes that are not always talked about with teenagers and young adults and that can be inappropriate according to quite a big group of parents.

 

 

 

SOURCES:

  • Williams, Maren. “Perks of Being a Wallflower Banned in Florida Middle School.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. CBLDF, 24 May 2016. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.
  • Finan, Chris. “Perks of Being a Wallflower Banned After Parent Complains.” American Booksellers Association. N.p., 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 Dec. 2016.