For my text selection, I have chosen Peter Pan, written by J.M. Barrie. In 1902 Barrie wrote the novel Little White Bird which contained a very early version of Peter Pan. In 1904 he opened a stage production of Pan. It was a huge success. Finally, in 1911, Barrie published Peter Pan and Wendy. It is known today simply as Peter Pan. I couldn’t find any reference to it being in the canon, but maybe I’m wrong. It’s not exactly new (100 years).
In reference to what the novel is about, there are really two sides to it. For a child reading it, they would find adventure, fantasy, extraordinary lands far beyond their own, and many unforgettable characters involved in a variety of harrowing tales. For adults, the themes go much deeper. They would see the story as being about the loss of childhood and the struggle between youths and adults.
Despite having only seen film version of the story, I had never actually read the true text until this summer when I came across it at Barnes&Nobel. It being a short novel, I finished it in about a week.
I expect that my research will bring new ways of thinking about and viewing the text in regards to theme, plot, and characters. I’m sure I will come across plenty of ideas that I had never previously thought of before. It is such a beloved and familiar tale that I don’t anticipate any trouble whilst doing research.
As my Big Project, I have chosen to focus on Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. More specifically, I’d like to focus on two of the nine short stories: “For Esmé – With Love and Squalor” and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Both were originally published in The New Yorker, included in Salinger’s Nine Stories collection in 1953, and are generally considered to be part of the American Literary Canon. These two stories deal with men who suffer nervous breakdowns and alienation, but are able to communicate with children. One of the stories ends with the suicide of a broken man, while the other ends with a broken man beginning to attempt to mend himself.
Although I read The Catcher in the Rye in high school, I did not explore J.D. Salinger’s other works until I saw the film The Royal Tenenbaums. Upon discovering that the movie was inspired by a family of recurring characters in Salinger’s short stories, I began to devour his entire published collection. These characters, the children of the Glass family, are geniuses who feel alienated from society. They are witty and relatable, and more is revealed about each of the characters throughout each of his short stories. ”A Perfect Day for Bananafish” follows a member of this family, while “For Esmé” never mentions the main character’s name. I would like to research these stories to better understand their ambiguous meanings. I believe my research will help clarify the role of the young girls in both of these stories, as well as the meaning of their dialogue with the broken men. Because Salinger’s stories are so intertwined, I believe that uncovering meaning in one of these texts will help to clarify the other.
After some thorough searching, I was able to find an abundance of analyses written about all of Salinger’s published short stories. I believe there will be no shortage of literary articles about these two stories, as they are widely regarded as two of his best. The articles I have encountered so far have been fascinating and encouraging in my goal of digging deeper into these Salinger stories.
I have chosen The Awakening by Kate Chopin, her second and final novel which was originally published in 1899. The book caused much controversy and was not thought of as canonical by contemporary critics because it supported immoral actions as illustrated through the main character Edna who commits acts of infidelity. More recently, the novel has earned a spot in the canon for its rich detail, ironic narrative voice, and themes of patriarchy, marriage and motherhood, and woman’s independence, desire, and sexuality.
I have previously read this book during my junior year of English in high school. It was my favorite novel we read because I loved the main character Edna. She craved independence and refused to settle for the life of responsibility that society had dictated for her. Although her actions were often times selfish in her quest to fulfill her wants and desires (such as abandoning her children), I found her rich character and rebelliousness interesting, if not always inspiring. Edna’s strength to break the confines society had set upon her is something I’m eager to study from a more academic perspective, opposed to my original, personal reading of the book. Chopin wrote the book before the movement for woman’s independence had gained momentum, and although women would gain the right to vote in proceeding years, it would be decades before women would be allowed to acknowledge and express their sexual desires without backlash from society (some would argue that there is still heavy judgement and double-standards in modern day.)
I’m looking forward to studying the novel from a more analytical base so that I can understand the controversy behind it. During my first reading we did not necessarily explore the book in depth, nor did we discuss how it was received during the time it was originally released. There are many sources available on the MLA International Bibliography and having read through several I am very excited to begin further analysis of this novel.
I would like to work with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” It is a short story produced in 1835. This is a canonical text. In fact, my American Literature class read and discussed this work a few weeks past. The plot is advanced through a series of encounters with the supernatural. Set in a Puritan framework, Goodman Brown experiences the temptation of sin and interacts with the dark supernatural elements, while he deals with feelings of paranoia and sadness. In the forest, he encounters first an elderly man, who becomes a Satan figure. This figure tempts and pushes Goodman Brown to continue down the path. Goodman Brown struggles to maintain resolve, though is eventually led to a meeting of a renowned witch, the elderly man, and many reputable members of his town. This experience changes the protagonist, who returns distant and forlorn. In high school, I read “the Fall of the House of Usher” for class, and my teacher, noticing my interest suggested I read “Young Goodman Brown.” I loved the the witch’s sabbath scene and held appreciation for suspicion of authority figures. I always thought my teachers, in school, but mainly at church, were preaching doctrine they neither practiced nor believed. I reread it this year with a more informed mind and enjoyed it even more. The supernatural aspect prevalent throughout the work still catches my interest. Hawthorne utilizes these elements in interesting ways. I hope, through research focused on this aspect of his work, I will have a better understanding of the conventions Hawthorne adheres to, and how they function within the text. So far, I have found several sources of relevance and have already begun reading some of them. I have collected nine of the full text articles online and have catalog information for some sources housed locally.