Master Harold No More

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RATIONALE:

“Master Harold”… and the Boys” by Athol Fugard is a one-act play that illustrates life in South Africa under the apartheid rule. Although generally the relationship between black Africans and the white Africans is very distant, Fugard’s characters do not follow that norm. In this written task, I chose short story to present the sequel of this play. If remembered, in the ending of the play, Fugard left the audience/readers with a scene Willie and Sam dancing to the song “Little Man” with lyrics “Little man you’ve had a busy day.”  This refers to the choice Hally would choose later on in his life. In this short story, the readers/audience will recognize that Hally chose the path that overcomes the social barrier dividing the White from Black race. Also, this task aims to stress the real-life lesson Hally learned from Sam and the rejection of institutionalized racism or apartheid by becoming an advocate for anti-racism. The readers/audience will realize how big the impact of Sam to Hally is by learning that Hally has become a degree holder on social science and speaker on South Africa’s apartheid system. In this written task too, the readers/audience will recognize that Sam’s hope for Hally to be a decent man is never put to waste because, like Sam, Hally is now a champion of equality and justice. Finally, this task accentuates the importance of education to help the readers/audience overcome attitudes and prejudices that are deeply rooted in the society we live in.

TEXT TYPE: NARRATIVE (SHORT STORY)

They have made the kites fly. Everyone is cheering.

Today is Racial Consciousness Day. I am sitting on my chair when the rain starts to pour. Everyone in the field begins to disperse, as if they are dancing in no particular movement. Then all of a sudden a thought occurs to me. It echoes saying, “You can’t fly kites on rainy days.” Then I remember Sam—my dear friend Sam. I have had no news about his whereabouts after he and Willie resigned from my parents’ St. George’s Park Tea Room where they worked as waiters. I was only 17 years old then. My life was scattered at that time. I didn’t know what I wanted. It was Sam who actually helped me realize many things bigger than life. Sam was there educating all my life. He helped me grow up to be someone I can be proud of. How can I forget Sam when he was the person who taught me that I was so wrong in many ways? For all the demeaning and racists comments I made, for humiliating Sam with a racist joke about the nigger’s arse, and worst of all for spitting on him. Perhaps I was just a troubled boy, a lonely boy. No. Perhaps I was angry, arrogant, and downright mean back then. But people change. And yes I did change. I am now the decent man that Sam hoped for.

The rain has stopped. Everyone is back in the field, cheering.

“Today is a special day because we are celebrating the Racial Consciousness Day,” the master of ceremonies announced. “To give us an inspirational talk, let us all welcome Dr. Hally,” the master of ceremonies said.

Yes. I am now called Dr. Hally. I am no longer Master Harold that I was once before. I now hold a degree on social science. I have been an advocate for anti-racism for desegregation here in South Africa. I give talks to different audiences with hope that they will be able to rise above the prejudices that have been institutionalized in the society we live in.

I stand and take the microphone and begin talking.

“Racism has created boundaries in our time,” I started. “It creates tension among us. It corrupts our relationships with our good friends, neighbors, and lovers. It makes us believe that skin color is power,” I stressed.

My speaking engagement goes well. Little do they (my audience) know that every time I speak about South Africa or apartheid system I feel like shrinking in shame that once in my life I had been fooled by a belief that race determines every opportunity that knocks on the individual. I am ashamed that I have looked down on people who have done nothing but kindness to me and whom I found solace. I feel so small every time I think of what I did to Sam. He is intelligent, refined, compassionate, and patient with me. But the world becomes unfair with him. Just because he is a “black man in his forties” he is not given opportunities the way I as a “white man” am. My foolishness and ignorance have even deliberately hurt Sam. I guess that is way too much. On the other hand, I feel very proud of myself that Sam has impacted me and left me real-life lessons that I never learned from my biological family. He left me a legacy that I now uphold–that is, to be understanding and forgiving even when someone has insulted and mistreated you.

 

 

 

 

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Dedication (for ASPC yearbook)

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As we trace back our footsteps, they remind us of our great ALMA MATER. We were still children when we started the trek toward our goal.  Our parents spent much, financial or otherwise, to enable us make that journey.

 

Spending sleepless nights in our studies or working on the unending and neck-breaking term papers, reports, and assignments was always our evening schedule.  Each day we diligently carried the voluminous books which, funny to say, we remember only a few.  We didn’t even remember to adjust our biological clock, because of long, intimate moments with our bed.

 

Perhaps memorable days in school will always be treasured.  Who will not? We learned to hate skipping school because we were afraid to miss the long string of activities and laughters.  Remember, how we laughed and shared secrets in one of the benches, the endless teasing of each other whenever our crushes passed by, the “cheating” arrangement in time of examinations and crammings, the defense mechanisms that resulted into nothing, the corny jokes that all became extraordinary because of our wise-cracking friends, the intentional chuckles in the library, the long train in the “CR” and in the registrar’s office during tuition fee’s “payday”?  What about Professor Terror, whose day we seemed to complete everytime we stood tense and speechless in recitations?

 

Crossing the finish line gives us the last sigh of relief.  Many times we were discouraged, but we never let disappointments stop us.  We always heard the small, still voice speaking to us during our times of trial.  Now we can proudly declare the situation will turn around.  No longer would our parents tear at their already white-frazzled hair worrying where to get the money for the next semester’s tuition.   Now, we inch ourselves into the work force, turning from a parasitical dependent into an eager contributor.

 

We will never forget you—dear Alma Mater—for the courage, confidence, hope and encouragement you gave.

 

With all our hearts, for you we cheer and offer leaps of joy and grand hurrahs!

 

This appeared in the Dedication Page of ASPCian  in 1993, written in FEB 1993 for Assumption Sapang Palay College

 

 

A short analysis on ‘No Myths’ Metaphors

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The PSA video depicts how society views autism in general. It emphasizes the wrong notion that society has for autism such as “autism has no hope, no future.” But it refutes this idea by stating that those are not facts, but simply myths. It claims that the national conversation about autism is happening without them and that this has to change. The PSA also shows the capabilities of the autistic people as represented by 5 individuals in the video. A woman states that she has embraced autism and that it has made her stronger. Aside from being a mother, she performs other tasks such as being a writer, a social worker, and an activist. The man with a recorder argues that despite his autism he also needs respects because he is still a person too. A child says his brain may work differently but with the support of society he can also do anything anybody else can do even if it is not the same way. At the end, the speakers accentuate that society needs to listen to them, leave the old stereotypes behind, and accept them for who and what they are.

It is noticeable that as the man explains the stereotyped concept about autism the door closes which signifies how close-minded or indifferent the society is about them. As the man lobbies for a change in perspective toward autism, the door opens indicating a need for acceptance, attention, and revolutionized concept toward them. The music adds grandeur to the seriousness of the tone of the speakers as they assert their standpoint on the issue.  This is strengthened by turning their backs as they walk away from the camera to stress their stance.

Note: I did this in completion of my coursera course last year.

I wandered happily as a grasshopper (A pastiche of ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ by William Wordsworth)

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I wandered happily as a grasshopper

That hopped high over a fly;

When all at once I bumped to a tower

Atop of the hill where I thought I could lie;

Beneath was a vast blue sea,

Brilliant as I could see.

 

Moving on I tracked the trail below

Where bees and butterflies raced mirthfully,

Above the daffodils that swayed to bid hello,

Together with the trees that danced merrily;

This stopped me a little while,

Hopping here and there with a smile.

 

Soon I reached the cliff

I turned my back to track my mark

Afar I could see the tower standing stiff

And heard the winds against the rock;

I watched the surges high and low,

I wanted to jump ‘cause I was aglow

 

As I turned around and stretched my leg

Two towering shadows ran in my direction;

Quickly I leaped into a snag,

Snarled my legs in my anticipation;

There I grinned at the beaming sun,

I hopped and hopped for they were gone.

March 3, 2015

What techniques did Swift use in A Modest Proposal?

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In the essay A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift describes Ireland under British Empire during his time by stating “It is a melancholy object to those, who walk through this great town, or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags, and importuning every passenger for an alms.” (502) At that time, natives of Ireland were very much worried about their future. They were looking for ways of getting rescued from their grievance. With bitter irony, Swift offers the most outrageous solution. Though there is the word “modest” (502) in the title, it is not so. It is very cruel and dangerous satire on the politics of the Great Britain. In his pamphlet called A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public, he assumes the role of a knowledgeable, objective, and practical economic planner. Swift proposes a way to tackle the miseries of the poor children and their parents. He argues that the problem of poverty in Ireland can best be solved by selling the children of the poor as food for the wealthy. Satirically, he echoes his outrage at what he thinks scandalous in the economic and political policies of the Irish and English governments. A few of the techniques he uses to convey his message to the readers and to make them aware of their situation are irony, word choice, and tone.

One dominant technique that is utilized all throughout Swift’s essay is irony, in which a speaker or writer says the opposite of what he means. For example, to point out that the Irish should not be treated like animals, Swift compares them to animals, as in this example “I rather recommend buying the children alive and dressing them hot from the knife, as we do roasting pigs.” (505) Also, to point out that disease, famine, and substandard living conditions threaten to kill great numbers of Irish, Swift cheers their predicament as a positive development:

“Some persons of a desponding spirit are in great concern about that vast number of poor people, who are aged, diseased, or maimed, and I have been desired to employ my thoughts what course may be taken to ease the nation of so grievous an encumbrance. But I am not in the least pain upon that matter, because it is very well known that they are every day dying and rotting by cold and famine, and filth and vermin, as fast as can be reasonably expected. And as to the young laborers, they are now in as hopeful a condition; they cannot get work, and consequently pine away for want of nourishment, to a degree that if at any time they are accidentally hired to common labor, they have not strength to perform it; and thus the country and themselves are happily delivered from the evils to come.” (506)

These examples prove that Swift’s essay is permeated with irony.

The second technique present in A Modest Proposal is word choice. Swift’s ideas resonate in the word choice he uses. For example, when he says “The number of souls in Ireland being usually reckoned one million and a half, of these I calculate there may be about two hundred thousand couples whose wives are breeders…” (503), Swift probably uses the word breeders to mimic the attitude of people who have no sympathy for the population he describes. Another example is how Swift uses the word “devoured” in his essay. It says “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.” (504) Here, devoured does only refer to eating but also to the idea that the rich have already consumed the resources of the parents. Thus, word choice contributes to the satirical tone of Swift’s essay.

Lastly, the overall tone of the essay is nothing but of seriousness. The use of ironic tone gives us a glimpse at the terrible conditions in Ireland. An example of this is when Swift enumerates his proposed solutions:

“I shall now therefore humbly propose my own thoughts, which I hope will not be liable to the least objection.

“I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.” (503)

We then learn that the “modest proposal” is that the children will be used for food. And this is not a modest proposal but an outrageous proposal, thus a satire. Swift uses this to bring our attention to the problem in Ireland. Therefore, the tone is serious. In addition, Swift also displays the seriousness of the tone when he profoundly states how the English exploited Ireland by stating:

“… let no man talk to me as of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five siblings a pound; of using neither clothes, nor household furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture; of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women; of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence, and temperance; of learning to love our country, wherein we differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo; of quitting our animosities, and factions, nor act any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken; of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing; of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy toward their tenants.” (507)

In this quote, Swift wants the citizens of Ireland to take a stand against English opposition, work towards Irish self-determination, and have sense of national pride to solve Irish’s economic situation. Notice also that in this example Swift uses the phrase “other expedients” (507) to emphasize that the suggestions are previously rejected. So, the tone here is very sincere.

The last paragraph of his essay says, “I profess in the sincerity of my heart that I have not the least personal interest in endeavouring to promote this necessary work, having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infants, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich. I have no children, by which I can propose to get a single penny, the youngest being nine years old, ad my wife past childbearing.” (508) As his family will not be affected by the practice he appears to advocate, this quote shows that the proposal itself is nothing but an irony. Therefore, Swift succeeds in exposing the desperate conditions of Ireland through the use of irony, word choice, and tone.

Reference:

Annotated Teacher’s Edition: Elements of Literature. Sixth Course Literature of Britain. (1997). Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

In the name of dream

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Hold on to your dream

Even if it’ll make your night day

Hold on to your dream

Even if it’ll take you a thousand years

Hold on to your dream

Even if it’ll cross you to the deepest sea

Hold on to your dream

Even if it’ll consume your might

Hold on to your dream

Even when your last breath can only be heard

How reading sparks writing

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I have not read nearly as much as the scholars, the bookworm, even the ‘erudite’ man, but I know to myself that reading has played important role in my passion for writing. I remember the days when I had to read voraciously the books in our library just to skip the supposedly ‘recess’ period because I had no single penny in my pocket to buy food. It gave me opportunity to read varied genres. I realize that each piece that I was reading is an act of discovering my own passion. Reading the works of Chris Wood and Linda D. Catlett from the Discussion Forum of this class and the excerpt of the autobiographical narrative of Frederick Douglass gives an affirmation that reading can spark the passion for writing and an opportunity to discover who I am.

When I was a child my parents used to tell me that my only way to evade the kind of life we had that time was through education, and to achieve it I must read a lot. They bought me a dictionary that I could carry with me. They would buy me and my sisters story books of varied interests. Thanks to my parents for compelling me to read than to play during my early grades. Through them I found the more valuable bread of knowledge—the books. Chris Wood also shared in his autobiographical narrative that his love for reading was influenced by his parents. He wrote, “I came to realize that having parents who read influenced their children to read, too. My mother, for instance, liked to read poetry, so she gave me an English poetry anthology; Robert Burns was her favorite poet. My father, a Protestant minister, gave me a Bible (KJV, of course); the 23rd Psalm is poetry in itself.” This demonstrates that parents are the first one that exposes their children to the love for reading. This also proves that all attempts at gaining literacy polish begin with judicious reading.

I am not a person with a cause (not yet), but I believe reading has given me opportunity to develop the sense of knowing what is good and what is bad. When I read, it is as if the book wakes me up with a blow to the head. I feel what the characters feel. I see myself in their conditions. In other words, reading helps me relate to situations presented in the books that I am reading. This also happens to Frederick Douglass, leader of the abolitionist movement. In his autobiographical narrative, he said, “learning to read had given [him] a view of [his] condition, without the remedy. The idea of freedom has roused [his] soul to eternal wakefulness. It was heard in every sound, and seen in every thing. It was ever present to torment [him] with sense of [his] wretched condition.” Indeed, a written piece is a powerful instrument that brings man to his consciousness. A written piece awakens one’s inner soul. As Douglass learns to read and write, he becomes conscious of the evils of slavery and of the existence of the abolitionist, or anti-slavery, movement.

Furthermore, I agree with Linda D. Catlett that “Reading is the gateway to the world.”  For Catlett “reading is the skill that applies across the board in terms of learning. Each of the other foundational categories such as mathematics, science, history, etc. depends on the ability to read.” Chris Wood also elaborated that “By giving [him] books, [his] parents didn’t just open [him] up to different beliefs; they also exposed [him] to various genres.” Probably if the three of us had not cultivated our love for reading we would not be able to connect prose and poetry, science and math, and history to the complexities of the world, and that we would not be able to develop our knack for writing.  For me, reading is a vast access to understand life itself. If I am able to connect myself to the material I am reading (be it prose or poetry), I am be able to understand diverse culture too. And if I am able to understand their culture, I will be able to communicate better. It is just like a chain reaction.

Lastly, I know now that my passion for writing is but a consequence of my continuous reading. Because reading gives me ideas and motivation, it inspires me to write and to respond. My experiences as well as others’ experiences are the sources of my inspiration. Somehow my poetry and my other works mirror who I am. The same event happens with Catlett when she mentioned “[her] passion for reading also translated to a desire to write. It has been a sidelight to all [her] life’s pursuits and has helped [her] explore ideas and feelings in the various phases of life that all of us traverse.” This is strengthened by Wood when he also discovered himself as a writer through reading. He stated, “Reading will change your life. It will change the way you think. And writing will help you discover who you are.” Truly, reading bolsters our writing capacity and determines our reasons for writing.

Like us, our great writers shared common ground—that they were also readers. Take for instance some works of Shakespeare who was influenced by Ovid and Holinshed. This proves that in one way or the other their works were sculpted by other works. For me, right now, it is enough to know that my passion for writing has made me who I am. I may have a long way to go to be called a writer with a social cause, I may have an enormous amount of bruising self-questioning to undertake, but one thing is for sure—I will write. And soon, I will write with a greater purpose.

Wood, Chris. “Reading and Writing: A symbiosis.” Discussion Forums. https://class.coursera.org/writing2-002/forum/thread?thread_id=522

Catlett, Linda R. “Reading is the Gateway to the World.” Discussion Forums. https://class.coursera.org/writing2-002/forum/thread?thread_id=542

Kaplan SAT. 2010. New York: Kaplan Inc.