Monday, August 6, 2012

"A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" Chapters I-II recap and thoughts

As you all know, we have finished Oliver Twist and we are starting "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain. I am already into Part IV, but I will be recapping Chapters I-II, plus "A Word of Explanation". Let's get started.

A Word of Explanation:

This is basically the prologue, where one protagonist encounters a man who speaks of Sir Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table. Then the one protagonist (who's name is never spoken yet, so I just call him the protagonist...) reads...

How Sir Lancelot Slew Two Giants and Made A Castle Free

Yeah, we go into the story of how Lancelot killed 2 giants and saved a castle from their plight, with Sir Kay in a supporting role.

As soon as the one protagonist finishes the story and puts his book down, the main protagonist comes in and tells his story:

The Stranger's History:

Finally, he has an (somewhat) name! The Stranger relates that he is an American, born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, making him a "Yankee of the Yankees." Then he tells us that his father was a blacksmith, and his uncle was a horse doctor, and the Stranger was both for a while until he learned the arms trade and worked and knew how to make weapons, boilers, and engines. He became head superintendent of the factory he worked at, and then ended up in a dispute with crowbars against a man nicknamed Hercules, at which Herc (abbreviation time!) knocked the Stranger out.

When the Stranger awoke, he was met by a man on a horse, described as "a fellow fresh out of a picture-book." He then tells the horseman to "get along back to your circus." The horseman then proceeded to charge at the Stranger, but doesn't run into him, then informs Stranger that he is the horseman's property, and they begin walking. When they see a far away town, the Stranger asks the horseman if the town is Bridgeport, to which the man simply replies, "Camelot." As the beginning closes, the Stranger give the man to which he has been telling the story, that he has written a journal/story of his adventures and gives it to the man to read, which he does.

FINALLY! On with official Part I, and chapters I-II.

Chapter I: Camelot

This chapter is basically a description of Camelot's streets, and its inhabitants. One of the things that gets me is that "the small boys and girls were always naked, but nobody seemed to know it." I can get babies being naked (lack of diapers), but when they're young like that? They couldn't make clothing small enough for them?

But I digress in order to get this recap done. Eventually they arrive at the castle, at which Chapter II begins.

Chapter II: King Arthur's Court

This chapter starts off with the Stranger sneaking away for a moment to ask an "ancient common looking man" if he belonged to the asylum (He still thinks he's in an asylum. -_-) or if he was just visiting, to which the man starts to reply, but is rudely interrupted by the Stranger, stating that the man did belong to the asylum.

Then he goes to another one, asking about the head keeper, to which the man says, "Prithee do not let me."
To which when asked what he said, he restates it, using the word "hinder." The Stranger was then approached by a page, who had come for the Stranger, who then remarks (as the funniest part of the chapter,) "Go along, you ain't more than a paragraph."

The page then strikes up a one-sided conversation, until he mentions that he was born in 513, to which the Stranger then asks for the year again, thinking he heard wrong, but the page repeats his birth year. The Stranger then asks where he is and what the date is, to which the page tells him he is in King Arthur's Court, and that the date is June 19th, 528 A.D.

The Stranger then asks the page, who's name is Clarence, the name of the horseman that brought him to Camelot, to which the page replies that the horseman was "Sir Kay the Seneschal, foster brother to our liege the king." He is then lead to the place where they kept prisoners. (He would be brought before the Knights, where Sir Kay would brag about how he captured the Stranger, and probably exaggerate the facts...)

Thus ends my recap of chapters I and II, look tomorrow for Chapters III-V.


Friday, July 6, 2012

News and A Report

Well, for all of you reading Oliver Twist with us, we've finished it, but have not updated the blog. But, here is my report on it, then we will be updating with "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain.


Oliver Twist: My Thoughts

The book “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens is one of the most challenging books to think about, especially with an essay to write about what Dickens was trying to say. Eventually I thought of this: Oliver’s beginnings or the dark times in his life didn’t just define him, but they shaped him. That is my thought on what he was trying to confer to the readers: Your beginnings or the dark times in your life don’t define you, they also shape you. Oliver was a boy, who could have been shaped into a good man or a evil man. But, luckily, Oliver’s experiences shaped him for the better.

 From Oliver’s beginnings with the parish, to the Sowerberrys, Oliver was in misery. But this doesn’t mean he is dark from the beginning. Rather, he still is a little boy, saddened by his experiences so far, such as being put up for simply asking for more food, to hearing insults about his mother from Noah, Oliver would have been even more miserable, and he was. But his whole life changed when he ran away from London, where he would have dark times again, but he would have good times as well. Oliver’s darkest times in London could have gotten him in trouble, but for the most part it didn’t. His good times with the Brownlows also strengthened him. 

Second, Oliver still remained humble, even with his experiences. As you see in the book, Oliver never gets arrogant or cocky in the book, always remaining humble, even when in dark times.  Oliver could have chosen to be arrogant or cocky or self-obsessed, but due to his lifestyle and his upbringing in a parish, he was probably taught to be humble in all he ever did or will ever do. Some people with Oliver’s past sometimes grow angry, but Oliver chose to just be humble.  Oliver’s humility helped shape him to the better. He remains humble and not arrogant when he is with the robbers, and he still remains humble to the end of the book. He always says “please” and “thank you” (probably because of his upbringing). 

Throughout Oliver’s life, both the good and the bad, the experiences of being poor helped him to appreciate the things he earned in life.  Oliver was probably used to being poor and desolate his whole life, and being abused by both the Sowerberrys and Noah never helped. But when he went to London, he became mixed up with Fagin and his gang, where he could have ended up a villain, but when he was with the Brownlows, he was appreciative of what he had. Thus he feared to return to Fagin, when he was happy at the Brownlows.  Oliver’s upbringing also had a deal in Oliver’s appreciation, as the parish was probably low on things considered fun and hence hardly anything good would come out of the parish. But, Oliver, through that, learned to appreciate his blessings.

 My thought on the book was how interesting from beginning to end was how Oliver was a good boy and his past experiences didn’t define him. And of course I thought of the reasons why they didn’t define him, was that he might have been down, but they didn’t keep him down, he was humble throughout his life, and that he appreciated what he had cause of his experiences.

Well, that was my report. Next post will probably be by me on "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" and I will be recapping Part I. 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Chapters VII/VIII/IX recap

Sorry for the delays, we've gotten really really really behind, except for ArmyReserveSoldier, who has finished the book. But I am here to give you a recap on Chapters VII through IX, followed by ArmyReserveWife following up on Chapters X through XII.  So, let's begin.

Chapter VII: Oliver Continues Refractory

This chapter immediately takes off from Noah's departure in Chapter VI (read the IV/V/VI recap for my thoughts on VI) and focuses on Noah on his way to get Mr. Bumble. Noah reaches Mr. Bumble and relates to him the fight between Oliver and himself. Add to the point that the gentleman in the white waistcoat (Remember him from Chapter II? "That boy will be hung. I know that boy will be hung.") is there, can change it, where the man says, "I knew it! I felt a strange presentiment from the very first, that that audacious young savage would come to be hung!" All in all, depressing... 

So, Mr. Bumble, and Noah took off to the undertaker's shop with haste. When they arrived, conditions hadn't improved. Oliver was still kicking at the door, "with undiminished vigour." Mr. Bumble and Oliver begin talking, to which when Oliver is asked "Ain't you afraid of it, sir? Ain't you a-trembling while I speak, sir?", Oliver replies boldly, "No!" Easily the best of the chapter. Unfortunately, it gets worse. Oliver is shut up into the back kitchen, in the company of a pump and a slice of bread. Mrs. Sowerberry keeps making hateful remarks about Oliver's mother, and  sent him up to bed, while Noah and Charlotte were jeering at him. 

The next morning, Oliver rises, quietly unbars the door, and runs away. While he is on his way, he runs into his friend, Dick, with whom he had been beaten, starved, and shut up together. They end up talking with each other, and Dick, whom is said to be dying, kisses Oliver (as a blessing) and they part, Olver heading away to London, where Chapter VIII continues off. 

Chapter VIII: Oliver Walks To London. He Encounters On The Road A Strange Sort of Young Gentleman

Well, VIII takes place right after VIII, where Oliver has walked nearly 5 miles away from town, although he hides behind hedges in fear that he could be "pursued and overtaken." He decides to go to London, where he assumes that not even Mr. Bumble would be able to find him. He had already diminished the distance between himself and London by 4 miles. So, he continues his walk. Along the way, he thought about what he currently had on him: 1 clean shirt, 2 pairs of darned stockings, and a penny. But he thought to himself that none of it would help him go 65 miles to get to London. After walking seven days and 32 miles, he finally arrives in the town of Barnet. He was observing his surroundings when he was approached by a young gentleman, who greets him and is surprised when Oliver says he has been walking for seven days. Oliver is then informed that the gentleman is heading to London and that he knows a friend who will give him room for no charge, and the gentleman and Oliver go to get Oliver's room. This friend is Jack Dawkins, who doesn't object to the room, and the gentleman is revealed to go by the name "The Artful Dodger."

Dawkins objects Oliver and the Dodger going to London before nightfall, so it was 11 when they reached a turnpike to Islington. (My favorite character so far is the Dodger. :D) We then end up meeting Fagin, in Saffron Hill the Great. Oliver then ends up being taken care of and eventually falls into a deep sleep. (Not my favorite chapter. Too slow...)

Chapter IX: Containing Further Particulars Concerning the Pleasant Old Gentleman, and His Hopeful Pupils

Chapter IX starts with Oliver awakening (half-asleep) from his sound sleep, with only Fagin in the room, stirring coffee, and checking his jewelry. Fagin then notices Oliver fully awake, then goes to ask him if he was awake a hour ago, even having a knife in his hands, but Oliver says truthfully that he wasn't awake anything. Fagin then starts back doing what he was doing, putting the knife down and talking to Oliver, (attempting to induce the idea that he had picked up the knife with sport.) He then asks if Oliver had seen anything, to which he says, "Yes, sir." Fagin then says that they are his, and that people call him a miser. Oliver then asks if he can get up, to which he is allowed to and even gets to wash himself up. 

When Oliver is finished, he notices that the Dodger has returned, and brought a man named Charley Bates. They then end up eating breakfast, where a conversation goes on, then after breakfast, Fagin, the Dodger, and Bates play a game. involving pickpocketing. After it, two girls, Bet and Nancy, come in, in which spirits (drinks) are shared. Soon, the girls, the Dodger, and Bates leave together, having been supplied with money from Fagin. 

Fagin then ends up asking Oliver to pickpocket his handkerchief without Fagin feeling it. Oliver does it, and the chapter ends with Fagin teaching Oliver how to remove marks on the handkerchief. 

Well, that's my recaps! Thanks for reading.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chapters IV/V/VI Recap

Nathaniel here again. Well, since we're on chapter 9 today, I feel it would be good to share my thoughts on chapters 4-6.
Chapter IV: Oliver, Being Offered Another Place, Makes His First Entry Into Public Life

Well, this chapter begins by establishing the undertaker, Mr. Sowerberry, and his family and servants. Mr. Sowerberry (hee, if you ignore the spelling, it sounds like sour berry...) talks to Mr. Bumble (we've already established him as not being likable.)

Anyhoo, Oliver gets taken in by Mr. and Mrs. Sowerberry (whom comment that Oliver is very small. No, really? Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Finally, Oliver is led to his bed, and falls asleep. And that's the end... of Chapter IV.

Chapter V: Oliver Mingles With New Associates, Going to A Funeral for the First Time, He Forms an Unfavorable Notion of His Master's Business

Chapter V begins with Oliver awake, and feeling lonely. Well, you have to consider, he's alone. No one to be friends with, or no one to care for him, not even someone to say hi to. That would be horrible, don't ya think?

So, this chapter introduces Mr. Noah Claypool, who's a charity-boy. (and incidentally, someone very important in the other chapters... Oops, spoilers...) But, Noah tells Oliver to "take down the shutters", to which he does, only to be rewarded by a kick from Noah. Gee, so much gratitude. (Yes, more sarcasm...)

And as both Mrs. Sowerberry and Noah talk and then laugh, we get a visual picture of Oliver, cold and shivering, sitting in the corner, eating pieces of stale bread. And this was the treatment of orphans in Victorian-era England. Sad, isn't it?

Anyway, one of the main events is the funeral of a woman named Bayton. What strikes me is that Mr. Bumble says that they've never heard of the family until her death. How could he not? Records? Was she a churchgoer? Or was she not?

So, Oliver ends up going to help Mr. Sowerberry with the funeral and the burial. The chapter ends with Mr. Sowerberry asking Oliver how he liked it, with Oliver's reply being one I can relate to: "Not very well, sir."

Chapter VI: Oliver, Being Goaded By The Taunts of Noah, Rouses into Action, and Rather Admonishes Him

Ok, so the first thing we learn at the beginning is that Oliver has survived the month's trial, and is now formally apprenticed. Unfortunately, for many more months, he meekly submitted to Noah's domination. (See, you kinda start to hate Noah.) Until this chapter.

Noah asks Oliver how's his mother. Oliver replies that she's dead, and not to talk about her, while he's trying not to tear up and start crying. Unfortunately, Noah continues to the point where Oliver overthrows the table and chair, grabs Noah by the neck, (Go Oliver!) shook him by the neck, and throws him to the floor.

Noah then cries for help, which causes Oliver to be "disciplined" by Mrs. Sowerberry, (who also makes comments towards Oliver's mother.) and he is locked into the dust-cellar, with Noah being sent to retrieve Mr. Bumble. (boo!)

Ugh. Someone will probably recap Chapters VI, VIII, XI, and blog about X tomorrow. Good night, and good luck!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Some questions so far ...

1. How is today's society different from the Victorian England we see in Oliver Twist?
2. How do we care for orphans today?
3. Why do you think Oliver is treated the way he is?

I'm looking forward to your answers!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chapter III: Relates How Oliver Twist Was Very Near Getting A Place Which Would Not Have Been A Sinecure.

Well I guess I am up, my name is Chanel and I will be bringing you today chapter 3 of Oliver Twist, I hope you enjoy what I thought of this chapter.

When we first read this chapter Oliver is a prisoner in a dark room, (pretty good start for the chapter right?) anyway how did he end up here you ask?,long story short poor Oliver asks for more gruel which was unheard of, resulting in where we are now, in a dark room.

In comes Mr.Gamfield talk about first impressions he is a fat chimney sweep who has a nasty temper, who just so happened to be looking for an apprentice, I think you know where I am going.

After bickering the price of Oliver back and forth the board let Gamfield take him for three pound ten, which wasn't to Gamfield satisfaction but he took the deal.

Leading poor crying Oliver Gamfield leads him to another man named Mr.Limbkins, who was a half-blind magistrate. After asking questions and deducting I think through this he had already made this mind up, but how Oliver looked and acted confirmed it.

After all that Oliver was brought back and put back into let, which is pretty sad when you think about it hasn't he been through enough already?.

Anyway I hope you enjoy this, it was interesting to write. I will see you guys later in the next chapter I do.

Happy Reading!