A Christmas Carol is a novella by English writer Charles Dickens, first published in London in 1843, with illustrations by John Leech. Dickens wrote it to express his concern for child labor and spread the ideas of love, compassion, and generosity. Instead of persuading people to be kind, Dickens used Scrooge to be the embodiment of his argument. The protagonist is a cross, miserable, and mean old man. However, he successfully changes himself and saves his life.
At the beginning of the story, Scrooge is indifferent to anything, and he threats his employee and family members ruthlessly. On Christmas Eve, Marley’s ghost and three spirits appear and they lead Scrooge to experience the past, the present, and the future of his life. The Ghost of Christmas Past brings him to see his poor forgotten past self left alone at school, his younger sister, Fan, and his beloved girl, Belle. The scene Belle left him has been frozen in his heart for a long time, making Scrooge miserable. It is also from then on that he realizes the reality of loneliness. The Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the ordinary life of his colleague and nephew. Although the Cratchit family suffer from poverty, they enjoy the warm atmosphere in the house. During his visits, Scrooge discovers that he is a nasty miser in the eyes of his relatives. And the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come let him see how his future will be: growing old alone and ending in a painful life of greed and selfishness. However, no one sheds a tear for him, and some even rejoice at his death. After watching these images, Scrooge deeply understands how utterly wrong he has been. He begins to change himself, becoming generous and kind, with a benevolent heart, and gradually learns how to enjoy the beauty of life.
During the Victorian era, Christmas was not so popular. It was not until Dickens published A Christmas Carol that the elements of Christmas slowly took shape. Various ideal scenes of Christmas are vividly depicted in Dickens’ book with delicate brushstrokes, and it influenced Christmas widely. Not only that, the book has received unprecedented acclaim as soon as it was released. It is a philosophical work on the theme of moral education. The protagonist Scrooge is a typical capitalist and if there is one thing that can make him tempted, it is money. Therefore, for him, friendship, family love, and personal feelings can be left behind. In fact, this is also the norm in today’s society. People often forget their original good intentions and kindness. Scrooge’s realization of the true meaning of life and his final redemption reflect Dickens’ unique point of view that even small personal changes can further influence others and make the whole world a warmer and more beautiful place to be. Through this book, the author expresses a spirit of great love in pursuit of social happiness and an anti-capitalist Christmas fable.
With strict rules, Jonas’ community seemed to be an idyllic place without turbulent events. However, things changed. On the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas was unexpectedly assigned to be "the Receiver of Memory". Jonas was trained by one called "the Giver", who would transfer memories to Jonas as his job. Through the instruction, Jonas gradually figured out that the real world could be colorful but unequal. Thus, the community gave up its memories for sameness and an easily manipulated society. He even learned that people would be killed in the name of the release, he subsequently realized that would be the fate of his brother. He eventually resolved to escape along with his brother and return all the memories to the citizens where no one's life would ever be decided.
Making a reckless decision without consideration is as lamentable as not being given any chances to make one. When the society was ruled by a totalitarian government, everything in the community was decided, even one’s death. What’s worse, people seemed to be satisfied with their lives controlled by the Elders because they’ve never understood what “making a decision” is. From my experience growing up, I’m given more chances to make decisions, and I’m always torn when thinking of having regrets in the future. But after figuring out how hard it is to determine something without doubt, I realize that the decision will only be valuable when I seize the moment to contemplate it.
“Be what you are” was what Asher taught me. While others were “socialized” by the conservative rules, unlike the people getting converged, Asher remained in an innocent, naïve, and creative state that was close to childhood. The quote, “Growing up isn’t the problem, but forgetting is.” from The Little Prince, emerged when I read paragraphs about this unique boy. It served as a reminder that we could still be special and not be restricted by rigid regulations. Although socialization is important for one to behave properly in a group, being true to yourself and not being limited by others’ expectations is equally crucial.
I analyzed and broke down what the Giver had gone through into three stages, isolation, sharing, and relief. At first, with no one understanding how painful those memories were, the Giver was almost detached from society. The detachment could be more susceptible to someone who’s an introvert. It’s a lonely time despite the wisdom and knowledge one has gained. In the second stage, the Giver’s isolation was broken by having Jonas empathize with his feelings. In real life, it’s almost impossible to transfer my memories to make others feel the same way. But I find art, with colors and music, a great method to express myself. For the last stage, “Memories need to be shared”, said the Giver. While concealing makes us imploded, sharing memories lightens our load. This leads to the stage of relief when memory is no longer a devastating burden, it becomes worth remembering and essential to our lives.
Living in a normal community, Jonas was a boy who leaded a satisfying life with his family and friends. Though there were plenty of restricted rules to follow in the community, everything seemed to be organized and ordinary. Every year, ceremonies for children at different ages were held, when every kid received certain things representing that they had grown up in the year, such as clothes and bikes. It was not until the Ceremony of Twelve did Jonas’s world change significantly. At the big event, twelve-year-old kids were given their assignments, which were their future careers. Unlike his friends, Jonas was selected as Receiver of Memory, which astonished both himself and the audience. The Receiver’s responsibility was literally to receive memories from The Giver, who was the most sacred and prestigious elder in the whole community. As the training began, The Giver started to give his memories to Jonas. Jonas was stunned at first because he had never experienced snow, colors, and feelings like pain and love. He gradually realized how ignorant he was before. He never knew before that the residents in the community were prevented from getting the memories of the past. As Jonas knew more by receiving memories from The Giver, his attitude and perspective changed. For example, he no longer enjoyed the war game he used to play with his friends because he had experienced the cruelty and misery of wars in the memories. Moreover, he felt lonely because he couldn’t share his feelings and experiences with anyone except The Giver. Holding the memories could be a painful, stressful, and heavy job. During the period Jonas stayed with The Giver, they had been discussing the plan to release the preserved memories to everyone. Though it could be unbearable and overwhelming for the people at first, they both thought memories about the real world needed to be shared. Therefore, according to their plan, the wise elderly man stayed in the community to provide assistance for the people, while the courageous young boy crossed the boundary of the community and went on a journey in search of the world in the memories, which was dangerous and adventurous…… The story in the novel taught me to question things that seem to be normal in my life. Before Jonas knew about the memories, he had totally had no idea how simplified and limited the life in the community had been. This made me meditate on whether the world I am living in is just like that in the novel. Are we in fact ignorant of memories? Are we in fact leading a life that is organized and controlled by ancient people? When reading the novel, I experienced the fresh and brand-new feelings just like what Jonas went through. It broadened my horizons and changed my perspective toward life.
After giving us 20 years of fantastic shows on the hardwood, for the first time, the basketball legend Kobe Bryant himself takes us on a trip into the mind of his. He presents us with a special detailed look at how his mentality was coming in and out of the court. Paired with the stunning photos taken by Laker's official photographer Andrew D. Bernstein, this book gives viewers a realistic experience as we are in Kobe’s mind and going through the whole journey with him.
The book in three parts captures the heart and soul of the mamba mentality. The first part starts with words and thoughts on his coaches and teammates. The third-person point of view tells readers what Kobe was like as a person, a player, and a friend. In the book coach Phil Jackson says that James Naismith is credited with having said “basketball is an easy game to play, but a difficult game to master.’’ Phil Jackson explains how the book is a pathway into the mind of the basketball master.
In the second part, Kobe shares his knowledge of how he approaches his body, how he works, how he prepares himself mentally and physically throughout his legendary career, and what goes into the mind of the greatest player to ever step on the court. Kobe expresses his mentality towards basketball in this part. He points out that he was not afraid to ask questions, he was always curious, and eager to get better at his craft. And it is that kind of mindset to be great.
The third part is about his craft. Kobe provides us with a first-person point of view with fascinating detailed breaks of how he played, and what he did in certain matchups, and games. In the book, Kobe presents a very detailed look at how he guarded hall of Famer Allen Iverson. He said, “Covering Allen was all about timing.’’ This discloses his approaches to defending Allen.
The book also offers a fascinating glimpse of Kobe’s recovery process after games. From top to bottom Kobe spills all the beans on the secrets of treating an athlete’s body. For instance, Kobe was introduced to contrast therapy in high school. A therapy that alternates hot and cold water immersion for athlete recovery. He has been practicing this procedure constantly since then. Detailed actions like this ensure him a successful professional career.
“The Mamba Mentality” takes us back into Kobe’s career and shows us infinite knowledge and understanding of the great game of basketball. The photographs paired with the narrative of Kobe Bryant give us die-hard Kobe fans a feast on the knowledge of one of the greatest basketball minds ever.
Robinson Crusoe is a novel written by English writer Daniel Defoe, first published in 1719. It offers us a way of looking at the Enlightenment, or rather that it is an epitome of the way the culture of Western Europe, in the beginning of the 18th century, looked at nature and the rest of the world. From this work, readers can see how modern natural science and technology dominated and manipulated nature, how non-Western cultures posed a certain kind of problem for Western culture, and a narrative of colonial justification at that time.
The story begins with the protagonist who craves adventure and an exciting life, despite the opposition of his parents. Crusoe sets sail from Hull and starts his second voyage from London – everything goes well at first, but soon the ship is seized by Turkish pirates and he becomes a slave for two years in Morocco. However, Crusoe manages to escape with a boy to the coast of Africa where a Portuguese captain rescues him and takes him to Brazil. After years of hard work, Crusoe becomes rich and successful. Eager for slaves for his plantation, he embarks on an expedition to West Africa but is soon shipwrecked during a dreadful storm and ends on an island near Trinidad. He returns to the shipwreck and takes as many things as possible so that he can survive alone. On the uninhabited island, he becomes religious and learns how to make houses, fences, pots, clothes, and even bread. Life is fairly stable and Crusoe enjoys being a king, having “the lives of all [his] subjects at [his] absolute command,” until one day, a man’s footprint on the beach breaks the tranquility. Some years later, Crusoe finds smoke floating in the sky and sees wild men dancing around the fire. He realizes that they are cannibals and keeps hiding until more wild men come to the island with two prisoners. Crusoe saves one of the prisoners and names him Friday. In order to have someone to talk to, Crusoe asks Friday not to eat human flesh, teaches him English, and converts him into Christianity. They live together, exchange stories, and plan to leave the island. Before long, some other cannibals appear with prisoners onshore. Crusoe and Friday save a Spaniard and Friday’s father. Some days later, an English ship approaches the island. Crusoe and his men save the captain and help him retake the ship. In 1686, Crusoe leaves the island, where he lives for 27 years, and returns to England. Years later, he goes to sea again and has more adventures.
Through Crusoe, Defoe demonstrates the philosophy and values of the Age of Enlightenment: reason and progress. Although Crusoe believes that his fate is determined by God, he shows his mastery over nature, by taming goats and parrots, and other human beings, Friday and the Spaniard. With a colonial mind, he is actually the master of his fate. Away from civilization, Crusoe pursues self-awareness rather than animal instincts.
“Saving Winslow,” written by Sharon Creech in 2019, is a heartwarming tale of an 11-year-old boy, Louie, and Winslow, an ailing newborn mini donkey. Louie, an amateur in nursing animals, saved Winslow while others considered it hopeless. Louie had been all thumbs with nurturing small creatures before his father brought a sick mini donkey home from Uncle, Pete’s farm in a harsh winter night. According to Uncle Pete, the donkey was born few weeks earlier than anticipated, which was the same experience as Louie eleven years back. At first glance of the ailing donkey, all flatly asserted that it would not survive for long, except for Louie, who just gave it a name, Winslow.
In stark contrast to his family members’ reluctance, Louie had friends sharing responsibilities with him in their own ways. For instance, Mack, Louie’s best friend, whose father owned a feedstore next door, provided him with necessities to aid Winslow. And Nora, Louie’s same-aged friend, was particularly sympathetic toward Winslow as she had lost her pet dog. It was the traumatic experience that pushed Nora to have no less attention and patience than Louie in terms of caring Winslow. As for Louie himself, he came to a point in which he viewed Winslow as a family rather than just a dead wood.
Recovering rapidly, Winslow gradually became a concern of the neighborhood’s serenity as it became a full-grown donkey. Acting on a tip-off, officials from animal control and health center ordered Louie’s family to relocate Winslow to another place suitable for animals within seven days. The unexpected demand caused a tension brewing among the family. Uncle Pete suggested to bring Winslow back to the farm, where it was born. Good as the suggestion sounded, Louie declined it harshly, so did Nora. To have their voice heard, they took to the street, appealing to the public to “pardon” the poor Winslow. It was a pity that what they did was in vain. The legal authority overruled their minor protest, setting the fate of Winslow in stone.
The night before the deadline of Winslow’s relocation, Louie and Nora took Winslow to pay Uncle Pete’s farm a visit. There, they were fascinated by the diversity of the animals. Suddenly, an ill elderly donkey caught their attention. It was Winslow’s mother. It dawned on Louie that it was indeed Winslow’s home and that he was too selfish in rejecting Uncle, Pete then. The next day, Winslow hopped onto the truck while others, especially Louie and Nora were in tears. Uncle Pete gently patted Louie on the shoulders, assuring him that Winslow would be in good hands. Relieved, Louie waved one final goodbye to Winslow as its figure disappeared into the thin air. Both Louie and Winslow had been premature babies; however, they prevailed against all odds slowly and steadily. Even with Winslow setting for another life in the farm, Louie, still in tears, firmly believed in the eternity of the bond and memories they created.
Treasure Island is a novel written by Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. He got inspiration for the book from a map of an imaginary island he drew for his stepson during their trip in Scotland. In his The Art of Writing, Stevenson says that “[Treasure Island] was to be a story for boys; no need of psychology or fine writing.” However, the book has provided many later pirate-related animations, films and dramas with elements of treasure maps, tropical islands, and one-legged sailors with parrots on their shoulders.
The story begins with Jim Hawkins who recalls his boyhood in the Admiral Benbow Inn and the arrival of an old captain, Billy Bones. One day, Black Dog visits the old captain, has a fight with him, and flees. A few days later, the latter receives a black spot from Pew, a blind beggar, and soon suffers a serious stroke which results in his death. Jim and his mother escape with the captain’s sea-chest before the pirates ransack the inn. In the sea-chest, there lies a map of an island where Captain Flint has his treasure buried. Jim brings the map to Dr. Livesey and the Squire Trelawney and they immediately plan an expedition for the treasure. However, they are unaware that some sailors they recruit for the voyage are Flint’s crew, including Long John Silver, a one-legged cook. The pirates’ conspiracy to mutiny is not discovered until Jim overhears their conversation in an apple barrel. The rebellious crew and those who are loyal to Captain Smollett soon have a fight on the island. In order to fight back the pirates, Jim drifts between the island and the ship on a boat. He finally takes control of the ship by killing Israel. Yet, Jim finds that the stockade where Smollett’s crew take refuge is taken by the pirates when he returns to the island. Silver holds Jim hostage and leads his followers to the treasure site but finds that the treasure has been excavated and removed. Angry with Silver, the pirates rebel against him and plan to kill him and Jim. At that moment, Dr. Livesey and his crew ambush the pirates and save their lives. They later find the treasure, found and hidden by Ben Gunn, who once served in Flint’s crew, in his cave long ago. The expedition crew load their ship with the treasure, take Silver with them, and leave the remaining pirates on the island. However, Silver sneaks away from the ship with a bag of coins and no one has heard of him ever since. After the voyage, Jim vows not to return to the island but he can still hear the scream “Pieces of eight!” by Captain Flint the parrot in his nightmares.
The novel explores the theme of moral ambiguity: the characters often find themselves in situations in which there is no clear distinction between good and evil. They are all motivated by greed and end up with their souls lost and their desire futile.
The story happened in America in the 19th century; back then girls were treated unfairly in every way. It was a patriarchal society full of sexism.
In 1820, Susan B. Anthony was born in a Quaker family. Influenced by her father, Susan enjoyed reading. But she was sexually discriminated against by teachers at school. It got her to thinking about the issue—sexism and this planted a seed in her mind. When she grew up, Susan started doing public speaking about sexism and its consequent social unfairness. By doing so, she helped many people understand and this issue and appreciate the value of every human being regardless of their genders.
During the presidential election in 1872, Susan was arrested because she went to vote. At that time, girls didn't have the right to vote. Brave and eloquent, Susan declared in court that she would fight against such unjust laws. The issue of woman suffrage thus hit the headlines. This is Susan's first win. In 1876, America celebrated its 100th anniversary of American Independence. The whole country was busy celebrating. Issues and topics such as independence, human rights, freedom were everywhere in the joyful atmosphere around the nation. Susan caught this very opportunity to issue the Declaration of Women's Rights after the speaker had read the Declaration of Independence. This move made everyone reexamined their so-called human rights and started to understand more about the sexism issues in their society.
I admire Susan’s courage very much because of her fearless pursuit of equality between men and women even though she was just a small and ordinary woman. It’s a pity that she failed to see women in America get the rights they deserve before she passed away in 1906. However, with Susan's efforts, the United States finally granted women the right to vote in 1920. What I have learned from her is that we should follow Susan's step to help the voices of the disadvantaged groups and the minority in society. Small and ordinary as they might be, they deserve the respect and rights that should have belonged to them.
“Flipped” is a romance novel which describes young people’s fickle and ineffable love. It was written by Wendelin Van Darren in 2001. The story dated back to the time when the female protagonist, Juli Baker was an eight year old girl. She was infatuated with Bryce Loski, a cute boy with attractive blue eyes and considered the prince in girls’ dream. However, it was an unrequited love for this little girl. Their first encounter ends up with the boy’s shying away behind his mother’s back.
Years later, when Juli became a sixth grade student, her crush on Bryce never ceased but only to make Bryce feel bothered and annoyed. In order to get rid of Julie’s pestering, Bruce pretended to fall in love with Shelly Stalls, a beautiful girl whom he was not interested in. To his embarrassment, Shelly found his trick and slapped him in the face. Knowing that Shelly was just a disguise to avoid her chasing, Juli rekindled her obsession with Bryce joyfully.
Bryce’s impression on Juli changed when his grandpa praised Juli as a brave girl to protest for a sycamore tree from being cut. However, when Juli protested for the tree again, Bryce showed his indifference to it instead of supporting her. The behavior shattered Bryce’s perfect image in Juli’s mind. On the contrary, Bryce felt guilty and developed some feelings to Juli while he still owed Juli an apology.
After this incident, Juli started to consider whether her love to Bryce shall continue. When she still decided to forgive him, Bryce broke her heart again by secretly throwing the eggs given by her in the trash can just because his family were not secure with the source of the eggs. Then the last straw of their relationship lies in Bryce’s teasing of Juli’s mental challenged uncle. The behavior turned Juli’s feelings to Bryce from fondness to hostility.
The novel reached its climax when Juli rejected to bid Bryce as her prom date but chose other boy. This time, it turned out that Bryce felt jealous and furious. To win Juli’s heart back, he tempted to kiss her in public but only to be rejected by her again and made her run away back home shamefully. Since then, their relationship had been frozen for a long time.
The novel ended with Bryce’s planting a sycamore tree in front of her house, which was a way to redeem himself in her eyes. The storyline left an open ending for readers, because Juli was hesitant to tell the reader whether she was going to accept Bryce again.
In this novel, the subtlety of depicting the youthful and naive love not only resonates with teenagers but recalls adult reader’s deep memory of pure and innocent relationship. In addition, the novel also covers the value of lovers’ family projected in the relationship. It is a well-written and worth-reading novel.
Great Expectations is a novel written by English author Charles Dickens in his later years. First published in weekly periodical All the Year Round, the novel is considered to be a Bildungsroman and is often compared with David Copperfiled. The protagonist tells the story of his education by life, his psychological progression, and his moral growth.
The story begins with Pip, orphaned by the untimely death of his parents, living with his grumpy sister and her gentle husband Joe. One day, little Pip weeps in a churchyard over the deaths of his parents and meets a convict asking for a file and some food. Pip obeys but the convict is soon captured. After some years, Pip is taken to Miss Havisham’s house to play with a girl named Estella. Although she is proud and aloof, Pip is obsessed with her and wishes to win her heart by becoming a gentleman. After a period of time, Miss Havisham asks Pip to be Joe’s apprentice, despite his desire to be a gentleman. During Pip’s unhappy apprenticeship, his sister is viciously attacked one night and Orlick, Joe’s employee, is suspected of the attack. Four years later, Jaggers, a lawyer, appears and announces that an anonymous benefactor, believed to be Miss Havisham by Pip, has offered Pip a vast fortune to receive education as a gentleman in London. During his stay in London, Pip befriends Herbert Pocket – they enjoy a luxurious life and run up debts. After Pip becomes a gentleman, he starts to show disdain for Joe. Several years go by, Magwitch, the convict whom Pip meets in his childhood, turns up from Australia to tell Pip that he is Estella’s father and the source of the latter’s fortune. Stunned by the fact, Pip takes good care of Magwitch and plans to help him escape from London. Before Magwitch’s escape, Pip learns that Estella has married Drummle and accepts Miss Havisham’s apology for her manipulation of Estella and himself. Pip sees Miss Havisham on fire and saves her life; however, she dies eventually. As for Magwitch, he is arrested on his way down the river, put in jail again, and passes away. The excitement of events mentioned above makes Pip ill but he recovers in Joe’s care. Full of remorse, Pip asks Joe for forgiveness and they are reconciled. Pip then goes to Egypt to work with Herbert. Many years later, Pip returns to England, finds the widowed Estalla in Miss Havisham’s old house, and decides that they will never part again.
In Great Expectations, Dickens explored the theme of class mobility, providing readers with a mobile society in which identities change when fortunes are suddenly made and just as suddenly lost. Although wealth matters, neither Pip nor Miss Havisham gains pleasure from their fortunes, but a sense of loss. Also, Dickens tried to emphasize the precious qualities and sincere feelings of ordinary people at the bottom of society by portraying characters like Joe and Biddy with sympathetic and nuanced brushwork.
Molly was born in Jigalong, a town in Western Australia. She was a “half-caste,” the child of a White and native Mardu people. When Molly grew up, the government forced her and her sisters, Gracie and Daisy, to go to school where they had to learn how to be servants of the White. They were sent to the Moore River Settlement, north of Perth, which is extremely far from home, Jigalong. There, they met a girl, Martha, who took them around to know the environment and to get to know some rules. For instance, the black tracker is someone that would catch the runaway back to the school along with severe punishment. Feeling awful and scared, Molly and her sisters decided to run away. Therefore, they hit the road and started a long and dangerous journey back home. On the way home, they learned how to survive in the scorching desert and hid from not only the black tracker but also the police. Not until they arrived in Wiluna, about half way between the Moore River Settlement and Jigalong, did their journey go smoothly. However, due to the long and tiring trip, Gracie, couldn’t afford to bear any hardship and this tiring walk. She left the other two girls, entering the town Wiluna to ask for help but was caught and sent back. After losing her, Molly and Daisy held back their sadness and persisted in going forward. With their efforts and determination, they finally got back to their home, reuniting with their family.
I think what this story reveals to us is the racial issues, the imbalanced power between the superior and inferior. Since the strong power of the White is prevalent at that time, this results in the suffering and unfair treatment of the Australian natives. The white people in Australia wanted to apply the so-called the White Australian Policy so that they recruited (or even forced) these half-caste children to a “school.” Say it nicely, they sent the children there to teach them some useful skills. In fact, gathering these kids is purely out of their own interest, which is terrible in my opinion. Sadly, what seems a ridiculous way of dealing with “people” still happens even now in the 21st century. For example, the event in Xinjian in recent years is similar to what happened in the story. How sarcastic it is, isn’t it? Still, in the very core of the dark, there is possibility of light. Even a dim light can foretell hope. And in this story, this light is Molly, my favorite character. Because she was never defeated by this terrible world, by the reality and because she was determined and fearless, she became the light and lightened the hope and future not only for her and her sister but also for the entire generation of the half-caste children back then in Australia. I think this is the spirit I have to learn and this is what I have learned from this rabbit-proof fence!