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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Essay on Use of Force by police - the Necessity for Use of Force

Use of force is a general idea.  It can be used in a positive way.  It can also be used in a negative way.  It pertains to the right of an individual to resort to the use of force to settle disputes and disagreements.

Generally, the use of force to achieve an objective or goal should be avoided.  This is because use of force implies that something is done out of the ordinary.  When force is used against another it implies that an event happened to somebody against his will.  Instead, the individual is required to peaceful means of settling a dispute.  For instance, when there is a dispute, it is suggested that the injured party should instead go to court and seek help.  Going to court is a peaceful means of settling any conflict or disagreement.


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It is because of this reason that the use of force is generally not allowed.  Use of force may be considered as a crime in certain situations.  For instance, when a married man forces his wife to have sexual act with her it is a crime since even if they are married he has no right to use force against her.  The same is true when police officers use unnecessary force against a thief.  On one hand, it can be said that law enforcement officers are entitled to the use of force against a criminal.  Because of the danger of the job of the police and the fact that he deals with the lawless elements of the society then he is justified in making use of force, at times even deadly force, not only to faithfully perform his function but also to defend himself against his aggressors.  There is no law that says that police officers should run away from an aggressor who violently resists an arrest nor is there any law that says that police officers should allow themselves to be injured or killed if the arrestee attempts to refuse arrest and fight the police officer in the course of an arrest.  However, oftentimes police unexpectedly resorts to violence in order to apprehend an accused.

Use of force however is not necessarily a negative thing.  Use of force may sometimes be necessary.  When it is necessary to save himself, a person is entitled to use force against the assailant.  For instance, when a person is attacked by an assailant he is justified in using force to repel the aggression against him.  In this case use of force is good as it is being used to save oneself from danger.  Use of force is also allowed when it is necessary to safe another person in danger.  For instance, a person sees another who is being beaten to death by another individual, in this case, it is alright to use force against the other individuals so as to save a stranger from danger.  Use of force may also be allowed when it is done to protect the honor and dignity by the person.  For instance, a husband catches his wife in bed with another man.  In this case, the husband is justified in resorting to the use of force for the purpose of protecting his honor and dignity which has been violated when he saw his wife in his own bed with another man.

Conclusion
It is clear that use of force may be allowed for certain noble and justified reasons.  However, when use of force is unnecessary, excessive or can be avoided, the law considers it as a crime.  In these cases, any person who resorts to use of violence should be punished.

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Essay on Homophobia - Homosexuals in Iran

Essay on Homophobia

Homophobia is a term that is associated with negative attitudes, feelings, perceptions and beliefs about homosexuality.  It is defined as the fear of lesbians and gay men and engaging in certain behavior based on this feeling.  It must however be stressed that homophobia is actually a misnomer as it is not an actual phobia.  Realistically speaking, persons who are homophobic do not actually have a fear or contempt for gay or lesbians.  In a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas, homophobia originates not out of fear or anxiety but from feelings of disgust. (“Disgust, Not Fear, Drives Homophobia, Say University of Arkansas Psychologists” 1)  Thus, contrary to other phobias homophobia is not a psychopathological condition but a social attitude against gays.

One of the countries that have been accused of being homophobic is Iran.  In fact, issues of homophobia in Iran have reached the international sphere in view of the execution in 2005 of two men for alleged homosexual activity.  Moreover, President Ahmadinejad was also reported to have said in front of an audience in Columbia University that there are homosexuals in Iran.  He said “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your countries.  In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t known who has told you that we have it.”(Stefanie Balogs 1)


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In Iran, homosexuality and same sex sexual act even between two consenting adults are considered crimes.  Articles 108 to 134 of the of the Islamic Republic’s Penal Code imposes specific punishments which range from 60 lashes to execution for men and women who will be found guilty of homosexual acts.  Article 123 of the same law states that “If two men, unrelated to one another, lie, without necessity, naked under the same cover, they will each be punished by up to 99 lashes of the whip.”  Article 110 also imposes the death penalty for sodomy.  Because of these laws, thousands of Iranians have been coerced, intimidated and harassed in their own homes, arrested, tortured and subjected to cruel punishment and even execution.  According to Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF), it has documented at least 146 cases of executions of individuals charged with a homosexual act since 1979.

There are many reasons why a person or a particular culture may be considered homophobic.  One of the most common reasons why some persons or culture may be homophobic is that they have strong religious beliefs that disapprove of sex and/or homosexuality.  It does not actually come as a surprise because of the religions in Islam.  Historically, one of the teachings of Zoroastrianism, the religion prior to the arrival of Islam in Iran, is that homosexuals are inherently demonic and that persons who are found to be homosexuals are immediately put to death. 

Islam also forbids any sexual relationship other than a relationship between a man and a woman.  There are various verses in Quran which have been interpreted to mean that Allah is against homosexuality 
We also (sent) Lut: he said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." - Holy Quran 7:80-81
"Of all the creatures in the world will ye approach males". "And leave those whom Allah has created for you to be your mates? Nay ye are a people transgressing (all limits)!" - Holy Quran 26:165-166

It is however wrong to say that all persons in Iran are homophobic.  In fact, some persons in Iran are more tolerant of the sexual preferences of other people.  The only reason why it seems that Iranians are homophobic is because of their religion. 

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Essay on Women's Right to Vote - the Nineteenth Amendment Essay

Until the early part of the 20th Century, it was socially acceptable to have a double standard of morality.  There was one set of standard applicable for men and another set of standard which was applicable only to women.  Most of the time, the double standard was always in favor of men and against the women.  Under this same standard, it was socially acceptable for men to cheat on his wife while it is an abomination for women to cheat on their husband.  Legally, men who shot their wife after seeing his wife in scandalous circumstance with her paramour can be cleared from any criminal liability while the same is not applicable for women who attempt to kill their husband.    

The double standard between men and women was the topic in the movie Adam’s Rib.  In the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Bonner found themselves at the opposite sides of the courtroom.  Mr. Bonner was the District Attorney who was tasked to prosecute the woman who shot her adulterous husband.  Mrs. Bonner, on the other hand, was hired to defend the case of the woman.  Mr. Bonner’s argument is that no person has the right to shoot any person indiscriminately no matter what his or her reason is.  It was his argument that shooting another person was wrong regardless of sex.  Mrs. Bonner’s argument, on the other hand, is that the legal principles which have exculpated men from criminal liability such as self-defense and defense of others should also be made applicable to women.  She theorized that if it was the husband who caught his wife in the presence of her paramour and shot his wife he can easily get the acquittal.  The same principle should be applied to the wife.  In the end, Mrs. Bonner was able to convince the court that the wife should get an acquittal.

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The same double standard existing in the American society until 1920.  Women were denied their right of suffrage while men were allowed to vote.  It was not that the women did not want to participate in voting.  But despite their insistence to vote, they were consistently denied participation in voting stating that voting was entrusted by the constitution to men.  One of the reasons for the same is that the United States Constitution did not grant women the right to vote.  The Fourteenth Amendment also did not confer the right to vote to women.  Neither did the United States Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment make all citizens voters.  This was the Supreme Court decision in the case of Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875) where the it declared that “the Constitution of the United States does not confer the right of suffrage upon any one, and that the constitutions and laws of the several States which commit that important trust to men alone are not necessarily void.”

Despite the losses of the women’s suffrage movement in the Supreme Court and in the Congress, they did not lose hope.  They fought for the recognition and argued that they have the right to vote just as the men.  The feminist movement argued that if the United States proclaims itself to be a nation which upholds equality among all persons then there is no reason for the women to be denied the right to vote.  Since there is no substantial distinction between men and women there is no reason for the women to be denied the equal protection of the law.  Moreover, it is inconsistent with the principles of a democracy for the right to vote to be denied to certain segments of the population.  By definition, democracy is the rule of the majority.  Every person, men or women, is part of democracy and so men and women should therefore be allowed to vote.   

They decided to turn their attention to the individual states and seek for state constitutional amendments.  This strategy bore fruit as state-by-state reform started in 1867 in Kansas with a referendum.  While the referendum was defeated, victories were obtained in Wyoming and Utah which was considered as the first victories for the women suffrage movement (“Nineteenth Amendment” 1).

With the ratification, however, of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18, 1920, things started to change for women’s suffrage movement.  The Nineteenth Amendment explicitly provides that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” With the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the other   restrictions on voting were also finally abolished. 
Today, it is already inconceivable for women to be denied any right which is accorded to men.  Women have proven that they too are capable of performing just as well as men in any field.  They have proven that their contributions can also vital in other professions such as Engineering, Information Technology and other major fields.  They have also proven that they can do almost anything that men can do.  

There are also laws which protect women against other forms of discrimination.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an evolution of the feminist movement.  This law prohibits any kind of discrimination on the basis of sex.  This law protects women from being denied the right to equal wages, opportunity for promotion, and other employment benefits. In the coming years, this will pave the way for more reforms and towards equality for both sexes.  With these changes, there will come a time when suits against companies because of discrimination will be dramatically reduced and sexual harassment cases shall be eliminated. 

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Essay on Healthcare Reform - The United States Healthcare System

I. What does the article express about the current U.S. health reform proposals?
Anna Wilde Matthews states that there are currently three major bills being hotly debated in Congress.  These bills have the same objective which is to expand and make available to a greater number of Americans health insurance.  This will address the problem among almost 50 million Americans who currently do not have health insurances. (“Health Care Reforms a Must” 2)  For this reason, these bills have significant repercussions not only for the present generation of Americans but even for the succeeding generations. (“Enzi Delivers Weekly GOP Address, Focuses on Health Care Reform” 2)

However, the law has certain provisions which every consumer should be aware of.  First, it will impose more taxes for middle-income earners and above.  Second, while the government will subsidize a portion of the health insurance cost, the consumers are required to get health insurance. (Jeffrey Krasner 2)  Third, individuals who fail to buy insurance may be penalized under the laws.

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The article merely informs the public on the different aspects of the health reform proposals being debated in Congress.  It merely discusses the advantages and disadvantages of some of the provisions that are included in the proposed bills which every person may want to know.  It also makes a comparison of the different provisions of the law being proposed in the different committees in the Senate.  It does not take a stand whether the proposed bills are harmful or whether the proposed bills will be beneficial to the public.

II. What aspect of the current health care debate concerns you the most? Why?
I am mostly concerned with the proposal that under the bills everyone is required to buy health insurance.  The law also provides that those who fail to buy health insurance shall be fined by either $750 per person if his income is up to three times the poverty level or up to $950 if his income is more than three times the poverty level. 

I do not think it is just and fair for persons who could not afford to pay health insurance to be penalized for their financial hardships.  First, if the people could not afford to pay for their health insurance it only goes to show that the government is not doing its job of making health insurance available to the public. (Dr. Sanjit Bagchi 3)  It only shows that the government is not helping the public get decent jobs that can help pay for their health insurance.  It is therefore wrong for the government to pass the blame to the public and penalize the public for failing to do what the government is supposed to do for them.  Second, while every person would want to get health insurance there are certain circumstances where getting health insurance is not simply a matter of choice.  For instance, there are individuals who do not have a regular income.  These individuals would rather give priority to pay for their food, pay for their rent and bills.  Health insurance is the least of their priority.  Forcing these individuals to pay for the penalty for their failure to get will only make matters worse for them. 

I am also concerned with the $750 or $950 imposed for failure to get health insurance.  I find this penalty a tax even if President Obama does not consider this a tax increase. (Tom Blumer 2)  As a tax, I think there is a requirement on the number of votes among legislators for the bills to be pass into law otherwise the law becomes invalid.  I am concerned about this since I know for a fact that President Obama promised during the campaign that he will not raise taxes on the middle class or those who earn less than $250,000 a year. (Christopher Beam 3)

III. Do you prefer any of the health care systems in effect in other countries? Why?
I still believe that the United States health care system is the best all over the world.  The medicines are cheaper compared to other countries.  I just think that with the worldwide economic crisis everybody is having a hard time letting go of their money.  That is why there are concerns about getting health insurance and paying for it.  I believe that when the economic condition returns normal the expenses in paying for health insurances will not be too much of a burden for Americans.  Moreover, I think it is also important to iron out some of the provisions in the bills. 

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Essay on Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow - A Critical Analysis

‘Ragtime’ is a blending of the stories of three fictional American families and different real and actual historical figures.  Using this unique style, E. L. Doctorow shows that history is a human design which can be recounted from a particular point of view.  The past events in history can be retold in a subjective fashion by arranging and selecting events to prove a cause and effect relationship between these events.

The major themes in the story are change and transformation.  E. L. Doctorow appears to stress that there is only one thing that is constant in this world and that is change.  Everything is in a state of constant flux and changing into something else.  E. L. Doctorow appears to say that the life of every character in the story changed after an apparent accidental encounter with the other characters in the story.  Since change is inevitable it will depend on the characters whether they will decide to accept these changes.  Impliedly, E. L. Doctorow may be saying that a person’s survival will depend on how he will decide to accept these changes as towards the end of the story, however, Mother, the character who seems to have embraced change, survived and married another man.
The novel’s setting is the beginning of the 20th Century in a small town in New York at the house an upper class family which has three main fictional characters: Mother, Father and the little boy.  The stories and lives of these three main characters are found to cross paths with other historical characters.  For instance, Mother’s Younger Brother is infatuated with Evelyn Nesbit a beautiful woman who is married to Harry Kendall Thaw.  The latter has been charged for the murder of her ex-lover.  Little boy who was a fan of Harry Houdini was surprised to find out that Houdini’s car broke down in front of their house and later pays them a visit.  

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‘Ragtime’ also provides a historical overview of the main events happening in the United States early in the 20th Century.  In fact, it can even be argued that the story is not just a reflection of the events in the 20thCentury but the novel is a reflection of the events that continue to happen until today.  For instance, the novel gives a glimpse of the kind of life experienced by many African Americans.  They were victimized by the society and the persons in authority refuse to help them.  Even in the 21st Century, it cannot be denied that African Americans are still subjected to discrimination. 

Moreover, E. L. Doctorow also accurately describes the setting of the story which was a time of rapid technological development and industrialization.  Because of the massive development, there was a wave of migration and technological advancement which helped increase the efficiency and production of goods.  E.L. Doctorow, however, also showed that development came with a price.  With the automation of the processes in the manufacturing plants, employees became dispensable and replaceable.  Thus, it was said in the novel that “From these principles Ford established the final proposition of the theory of industrial manufacture - not only that the parts of the finished product be interchangeable, but that the men who build the products be themselves interchangeable parts.” (Ragtime)

The story tells vividly the individual struggles each character faces in the story.  But it also shows that each of the character in the story affects another character in a profound way.  Thus, while the encounters of the different may seem to be mere coincidences, these crossing of paths have life-changing effects on the rest of the characters in the story.   For instance, Younger Brother’s life changed when he became involved with Coalhouse.  Before he met Coalhouse, Younger Brother thought that his life did not have any meaning.  Things changed, however, when he met Coalhouse and joined the group of revolutionaries.  He thought that he finally found a sense of purpose in his life.  Younger Brother’s new found life was vividly described in the story.  It was said that “They believed they were going to die in a spectacular manner. This belief produced in them a dramatic, exalted self-awareness. Younger Brother was totally integrated in their community. He was one of them. He awoke every day into a state of solemn joy.” (Ragtime)

In the final chapter of the story, Coalhouse was seen shot to death by a group of New York policemen.  Among many of the characters in the story, Coalhouse’s death is considered as one of the saddest moment in the novel.  One reason for this is the fact that Coalhouse represents the typical African American who was victimized by the society during the 20th Century.  Just like the other African Americans he thought that he deserved more than what the society is giving him.  Moreover, it is actually not difficult to take pity on his character since Coalhouse was actually a law abiding citizen and that he exerted every legal effort to resolve his issues with the society before he resorted to violence.  

Pierpont Morgan is also another important character in the story.  He was an actual historical figure who became rich because of his involvement with steel.  He however was a mystic and a believer in the occult.  He also thought that he is a reincarnation of an Egyptian King.  In his desire to convince others of his beliefs, he arranges a meeting with Henry Ford, another historical figure who was involved in the manufacture of automobiles.  He dies at the end of the novel.  But compared to the other characters, his death was expected and did not elicit any kind of sympathy.

Houdini is also another historical figure who became a famous escape artist.  He devoted his life trying to unmask fraudulent physics.  Despite his successes in the public eye, he has personal issues.  He was unhappy with what he was doing and often questioned whether he was contributing to the society or was merely an entertainer engaged in mindless entertainment. Towards the end of the story, however, he realized that he had experienced a genuine mystical experience in his life.  When the World War I broke out after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, he remembered that years ago he had met Little Boy who mysteriously told him to “Warn the Duke.” This once again highlights the important theme that the individual journeys of each of the character had a broader impact on the world affairs at the time.  Thus, while it may appear that the world of the Little Boy was much different from that of Houdini, towards the latter part, it became apparent that their coincidental meetings with each other had a more profound and lasting effect on their life.

Towards the end of the story, the individual journeys of the different characters in the story became connected with each other.  The three main fictional characters – Father, Mother and the Little Boy – who were initially together under one roof were separated.  Because of the interaction of these fictional characters with other characters such as Sarah, Coalhouse, and others, irreconcilable differences between Father and Mother came up.  The Mother realized some things and became liberated.  When father died after the sinking of the SS Lusitania, Mother married Baron Ashkenazy and together with their two children, and the child of Coalhouse and Sarah moved to California together where the three families were united.

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Compare and Contrast Essay on ‘The Lesson’ and ‘The Conversion of the Jews’

Epiphany came from the Greek word epiphaneia which means manifestation or striking appearance.  In the epiphany was associated with the manifestation of a deity.  It is now commonly understood as the sudden realization, perception or insight or comprehension of an essence or meaning of something.  In short stories, epiphanies can happen as a result of an experience or event.  It can also happen as a result of a third person who makes one of the characters in the story comprehend an important thing in life.  This essay seeks to explain whether the main characters in the stories ‘The Lesson’ and ‘The Conversion of Jews’ experienced an epiphany.  A comparison of how the realization was made and who caused the realization will also be discussed in this essay. 

In the short story ‘The Lesson’ Sylvia and the other kids learned a lesson from this trip to the toy store at Fifth Avenue.  She learned taht Miss Moore was right after all.  She has been living in a world where the wealth and resources are not equally distributed (Jane Ruth Heller 1).  It is a world where some people are getting the lion's share of the wealth while some are gettting only the leftovers.  It just so happens taht they are at the bottom of the food chain and that they are getting a very small part of the wealth.  Thus, one of the childrein the sotry said “’I think,’…that this is not much of a democracy if you ask me. Equal chance to pursue happiness means an equal crack at the dough, don't it?”  (The Lesson)   

On the other hand, the white are getting a big chunk of the wealth.  Some of these people are actually living a decent life and have the purchasing power to buy expensive toys and clothes.  Some of this people do not have to worry about the rent and the money to buy the food while Sylvia and her family are having difficulty simply paying their rent or buying new beds.  Her family could not even afford to visit their grandfather at the country.  Thus, it was said in the story, “Who are these people that spend that much for performing clowns and $1000 for toy sailboats? What kinda work they do and how they live and how come we ain't in on it?” (The Lesson)

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She realized that she had been living in a world where she knew that everyone was living in poverty.  She thought that everyone was living in the same condition as they are in the community.  The trip has widened her horizon.  With the help of Miss Moore who served as an agent of change in the story, Sylvia has learned a great deal about the world that has been hidden from her view.  The different world here was symbolized by the toy store.  It is worth recalling that as the children were entering the toy store, Sylvia and the other children felt a different and new feeling.  It was as if they are entering a different universe, to wit:

But I feel funny, shame. But what I got to be shamed about? Got as much right to go in as anybody. But somehow I can't seem to get hold of the door, so I step away from Sugar to lead. But she hangs back too. And I look at her and she looks at me and this is ridiculous. I mean, damn, I have never ever been shy about doing nothing or going nowhere.” (The Lesson)


In essence, it was just a toy store.  But it was a toy store that aroused their emotions.  Some were confused.  But Sylvia’s emotion is much stronger.  She was angry.  Thus, it was said, “We just stare at that price tag. Then Sugar run a finger over the whole boat. And I'm jealous and want to hit her. Maybe not her, but I sure want to punch somebody in the mouth.” (The Lesson)  The children felt as if they were entering a different world.   A world that she never thought existed.  It is a world that she would have never known without the help of Miss Moore. 


There was no realization from Ozzie Freedman, the main character in the story ‘The Conversion of the Jews.  Ozzie had long known about the hypocrisy prevalent among many of the Jews in his community. (“The Conversion of the Jews: Themes” 2)  In his search for the truth about Judaism, he managed to stumble upon many beliefs and practices and he questioned them.  In the process, he aroused the ire of the people around him.  He merely wanted the people to realize about their obsession with rituals and practices.  It was not also clear whether there was realization among the other characters in the story but the Ozzie was satisfied with what the other characters have said.


One of these people is his mother who was obsessed with rituals and practices.  She made it a

habit to light candles on the Sabbath.  His mother’s ritualistic beliefs stressed in the following “When his mother lit the candles she would more her two arms slowly towards her, dragging them through the air, as though persuading people whose minds are half made up. And her eyes would get glassy with tears.”  (The Conversion of the Jews)  She believed in God but she did not acknowledge the omnipotence of God. 


The second is the custodian who would rather recite prayers which he did not understand.  For Ozzie, he thought that this is preposterous and ridiculous.  He thought that it is better for him to recite prayers which he understood.


Of all persons, Ozzie considered the rabbi as the most hypocrite.  Ozzie thought that the rabbi is hypocrite because he believed in something that is not true.  He refused to recognize the inconsistency in his belief and will not admit that it is possible for Jesus to be born in a virgin mother despite the omnipotence of God.  In addition, he forces his student to read the bible in a fast manner even if as a result the student will not be able to understand what they are reading. 


A comparison of the two stories will reveal that the Sylvia, the main character in ‘The Lesson’ had an epiphany towards the end of the story.  She realized that her world is not the only world and that there is a much better world outside of her community.  On the other hand, Ozzie, the main character in ‘The Conversion of the Jews,’ had long understood the obsession with rituals and practices among many Jews.  He had long known that they were hypocrites.  He had long known that they were wrong.  His goal was to make his mother, rabbi and friends understand the inconsistency in their beliefs.


If we are to compare the situation of Sylvia and Ozzie, it is noticeable that their roles in the story were different.  In the case of Sylvia, she was the one who experienced an epiphany towards the end of the story.  She was the one who learned from their short visit at the toy store.  With the help of Miss Moore who served as an agent of change, she learned a great deal about her own world and the other world.  Miss Moore actually converted the children.  On the other hand, Ozzie was the agent of change in ‘The Conversion of the Jews.”  He was the one who made his mother, rabbi and his friends realized about the inconsistency in their beliefs.  She was the one who converted the Jews.  She was the one who taught the Jews about the errors in their belief. 


The manner of the realization was also different.  Sylvia’s realization came after the short visit to the toy store.  While Miss Moore wanted to teach the children about money, it was done indirectly.  It was not done in a straightforward manner.  Miss Moore wanted the children to realize for themselves.  On the other hand, Ozzie used threat in sending his message to his mother, rabbi and friends.  By attempting to jump from the roof of the Synagogue he made the people reflect about their religion and realize their mistakes. 

One similarity, however, is with respect to the ending of the story.  The endings were open-ended.  It was not known what Sylvia will know after the realization.  Though she vowed towards the end of the story that nobody will beat her at anything, it was not known whether she will lead a life of crime and whether she would work harder.  It however gave the impression that Sylvia will do something about her situation.  Thus, she said, “We start down the block and she gets ahead which is O.K. by me cause I'm going to the West End and then over to the Drive to think this day through. She can run if she want to and even run faster. But ain't nobody gonna beat me at nuthin.” On the other hand, it was not also known whether Ozzie’s mother, rabbi and classmates will actually change their behavior or their beliefs.  Towards the end of the story, he made them say that “God can make a child without intercourse.” Whether these people actually believed him was not shown.  All that is known is that Ozzie made his mother, rabbi and friends say something that he wanted them to say.  At the end of the story he was satisfied with what he had heard. 

 

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Compare and Contrast Essay on “My Last Duchess” and “In Westminster Abbey”

A dramatic monologue refers to a kind of poem in which a single fictional or historical character other than the poet is made to speak to a silent audience. In dramatic monologues only the main character is allowed to speak. The objective of the monologue is to reveal not the poet’s own thoughts but the mind of the lead character of the poem. (Christopher Baldick 1) In the process, the poet reveals to the audience the main character’s personality. Moreover, in a dramatic monologue the main focus is the personal information not the topic which the speaker happens to be talking about.

My Last Duchess
The two poems to be discussed in this essay are typical examples of a dramatic monologue. The setting of “My Last Duchess”, a poem by Robert Browning, is the palace of Duke of Ferrara during the 16th Century. Ferrara is in the northern Italy. The Duke of Ferrara in “My Last Duchess” resembles a historical character who was Alfonso II, the fifth and last duke. Meanwhile the deceased duchess in his poem refers to Lucrezia de Medici, the daughter of a Duke of Florence and Grand Duke of Tuscany.

As is common in many other dramatic monologues, “My Last Duchess” offers a glimpse of the personality of the Duke of Ferrara. The first line alone reveals that he is an art lover. In the first three lines, “That's my last duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive. I call That piece a wonder.” The portrait of the late Duchess of Ferrara is a fresco, which is a type of work painted in watercolors directly on a plaster wall. His statement about calling that piece a wonder emphasizes that he has in his possession many other paintings. It gives the impression that the painting of the Duchess is the one painting that is more valuable than the other.

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The second character trait of the Duke of Ferrara as shown in this poem is that he is a jealous husband. The following lines are relevant, to wit: “She had A heart - how shall I say? - too soon made glad, Too easily impressed: she liked whate'er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.” (lines 21 to 30) In this line, the Duke of Ferrara shows that he is a jealous husband who demanded no less than the complete attention of his wife. He gets annoyed with his wife every time he sees her pleased with things other than him. He did not want her to be happy with other things but only with him. The Duke wanted his wife to make him happy. He wanted his wife to focus her complete attention on him every time they are together. He hated it when his wife is distracted by other things when they are together.

The Duke of Ferrara’s jealousy was even highlighted when he intimated that the Duchess had an affair with other men. The following lines are relevant, “Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt, Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without Much the same smile?” By this the Duke of Ferrara implied that the Duchess smiled at men. He meant that the Duchess flirted with other man. He even suggested here that the Duchess did more than flirt with some man. He did not however elaborate how he came to know of this fact or whether he has proof of his allegation.

The third character trait of the Duke of Ferrara as shown in this poem is that he is an autocratic and cruel ruler. The following lines are relevant, “This grew; I gave commands; I gave Then all smiles stopped together.” In this line, the Duke of Ferrara nonchalantly reveals that he may have been responsible for the death of the Duchess. He stated without any hint of remorse or pity that when the flirtation did not stop, the Duke of Ferrara did something to her so that the flirtation will stop. This reveals the cruel side of the Duke of Ferrara that he can cause the immediate execution of any person in his kingdom without showing any kind of emotion. He has the power to give the orders and his orders will be obeyed.

In Westminster Abbey
“In Westminster Abbey” is another dramatic monologue. It is a poem by John Betjeman. The setting for this poem is the beginning of World War II in Britain. The only character in this poem is a woman who enters the Abbey to pray for a short moment before she goes to a lunch date. The woman was not named but she appears to represent the people who belong to the upper class and lived in the classy Chelsea neighborhood of Cadogan Square.

The first character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a racist woman. This is apparent in this line, “Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.” The setting for this poem was in Great Britain during the start of the World War II, the time when Germany joined forces with Italy and Japan to wage against the Allied forces of the United States and Great Britain. At this time, Germany had started to launch its attack by dropping bombs against Great Britain. In order to afford protection, the main character entered the church and asked that she be spared and that the Germans should be bombed instead. She asked the Lord to use His power to protect them and instead annihilate the Germans.

The second character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a hypocrite woman. Her hypocrisy is evident in the following lines, “I will labour for Thy Kingdom, Help our lads to win the war.” In these lines, the main character showed her hypocrisy by promising that she will obey the Church’s commandments and do something for the Church. She even stated at the start of the poem that she was willing to remover her glove commonly worn by women of her social stature and to clean the Abbey. However, she expected that she will get something in exchange for her promise to work for the Church. She hopes that Britain will win the war against the Germans. She also hopes that the Lord will bomb the Germans but let her survive the war. She also hoped that at the end of the war, the Lord will spare her of the damage and that her business investment will not be affected. This evident in the following lines, “So, Lord, reserve for me a crown. And do not let my shares go down.”

The third character trait of this woman that was revealed was that she is a selfish and self-centered woman who only cared about herself during the time of war. She went to church not to pray for the people in Britain who have been attacked by the Germans. In fact, she went to church only to ask that her prayers be granted which is for her to be able to survive the war and for her business investment not to be affected when the war is over. I think the poem sought to show that at this time in history there were many women saw the church as a place where they could benefit from. God was seen as someone who can grant their wishes like a genie in a lamp. For them, God was someone who existed for their benefit whom they can command as their servant.

Conclusion
Based on the discussion, both the poems are examples of dramatic monologue. They both reveal so much detail about the main character’s personality without saying it directly. They also use powerful and colorful words to hide the darkest and grimmest personality of the main character.

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Essay on Food Inc. Documentary






I learned the following information after watching the Food Inc. documentary film: 1) Farm owners treat the livestock and poultry in their farms in a horrifying and sickening manner; 2) Farm workers are also being abused by the farm owners and made to work in farms where the minimum standards of safety are not being met; 3) The food products being sold in the market such as the chicken, pork and tomato and others are being fed artificial food so that they grow faster and become bigger, and fatter in lesser period of time;  4) Processed food are basically and ultimately come from the same product which is corn; 5) There is a new strain of E. coli which causes illness to 73,000 Americans and death to thousands more; 6)More Americans now have diabetes and heart ailments early in their life; and 7) During the Bush administration, the head of the FDA was the former executive vice president of the National Food Processors Association and the chief of staff of the Department of Agriculture was the former chief lobbyist for the beef industry.

After watching the documentary, I have become more aware about the food I buy and eat, the environment, poultry and livestock.  I have realized that the food I eat on a daily basis may affect my health in the future.  I have also realized that the food I eat may have bacteria which can kill me.  I also realized that not every product that is advertised on television and in newspapers is healthy for me. 

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I found out that the reason why some products are continuously being sold in the market despite its harmful effects is that the people who sell these products to consumers like me are very powerful.  They are so powerful that they have managed to find their way inside the White House.  I know now that these products have not yet been banned because they are being supported by the government.  I know now why so many people in my community are obese or have diabetes.  I have studied their eating pattern and came to the conclusion that the food they eat is contributing to their present state of health.

I also came to realization that I have a choice. Consumers have a choice.  They can choose not to eat processed food.  They can choose not to eat food that came from the farms shown in the documentary.  They can choose not to eat fast food.  They can choose to eat healthy.  They can choose to live a healthy life style.

For instance, I have become more conscious of the milk that I buy in the grocery after finding out that the milk that I have been drinking may have come from cattle which has been injected with artificial growth hormones which may eventually affect my health.  I also have become more aware that the burgers I eat do not only destroy the environment but may also be dirty and contaminated and may have harmful by products which can make me sick.  I have also learned that the environment suffers when I consume more meat products since they need to be loaded on trucks and transported from the farm to the city.  At present, I plan to try reducing my intake of meat and instead eat more organic products such as salad.  I also try to reduce my intake of carbonated and sweetened drinks and instead drink more water which is a healthier alternative.

Conclusion
People think that choosing to eat in fast food is cheap.  I now know that too much burgers and fries and other processed food can kill me.  This is no longer an issue of cost as eventually people who suffer from sickness or disease may end up spending more.  Moreover, there is no price tag to living a healthy life.

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Essay on “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”

The title itself of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” tells everything about this literary piece.  The theme that was quite prevalent throughout the story was the oppression suffered by slaves in the Southern States.  It is worth stressing that throughout the entire narrative Frederick Douglass discussed and shared with his readers the condition of slaves, and the treatment and brutalization they suffered in the hands of their masters.  Among these conditions were as follows: 1) slaves were subjected to hard work and toil in plantations of tobacco, wheat and corn.  They were given little food and clothing and even denied a comfortable place to stay.   Slaves were also denied decent sleep as they oftentimes return to work the following day without having slept. 

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Thus, in Chapter II Frederick Douglass describes in detail the provision of clothes allotted to the slaves, “their yearly clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts, one pair of linen trousers, like the shirts, one jacket, one pair of trousers for winter, made of coarse negro cloth, one pair of stockings, and one pair of shoes; the whole of which could not have cost more than seven dollars… The children unable to work in the field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consisted of two coarse linen shirts per year. When these failed them, they went naked until the next allowance-day. Children from seven to ten years old, of both sexes, almost naked, might be seen at all seasons of the year.” (Chapter II, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave)  2) Slaves were often brutalized by their owners even with the littlest of mistakes.  They were totally subjected to the whims and caprices of their owners.  They are not expected to complain if ever their masters will inflict physical pain against them.  Any slave who dare speak ill of his master will find himself sold to other slave owners and separated from his family.  The brutality was explained by Frederick Douglass in Chapter I, “I have often been awakened at the dawn of day by the most heart-rending shrieks of an own aunt of mine, whom he used to tie up to a joist, and whip upon her naked back till she was literally covered with blood. No words, no tears, no prayers, from his gory victim, seemed to move his iron heart from its bloody purpose. The louder she screamed, the harder he whipped; and where the blood ran fastest, there he whipped longest.”  (Chapter I, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave) 3) Slaves were denied the right to vote, right to know, freedom, and even the right to life.  During this time, it was ordinary for a slave to be killed by their masters without being made to answer for his crime.  Frederick Douglass recounts in Chapter IV how Demby, another slave, was shot to death by Gore and how another slave was killed with the use of a hatchet.  The death of slaves in the hands of their master was not considered a crime.  It did not even arouse the sympathy of the people in the community.  Thus, Frederick Douglass explained in Chapter IV, “I speak advisedly when I say this,--that killing a slave, or any colored person, in Talbot county, Maryland, is not treated as a crime, either by the courts or the community. Mr. Thomas Lanman, of St. Michael's, killed two slaves, one of whom he killed with a hatchet, by knocking his brains out. He used to boast of the commission of the awful and bloody deed. I have heard him do so laughingly, saying, among other things, that he was the only benefactor of his country in the company, and that when others would do as much as he had done, we should be relieved of ‘the d----d niggers."’” (Chapter IV, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave)

The second theme that was prevalent in the Narrative was the hypocrisy among Christians.  Frederick Douglass stated that the slave owners during this time were also Christians who regularly attended mass, read the bible and even prayed.  It is however very surprising that their acts contradicted the most fundamental of Christian belief which is to love and care for other people.  For instance, it is common for the masters to sexually abuse their slaves to the point that they these slaves become pregnant with the babies of their owners.  When the slave woman gives birth, the master sells the baby to the care of another master so that the baby will be separated from its mother. 

The third theme is the separation of the family by the separation of children of slaves from their mothers even before their first birthday.  After the slave woman has given birth she is allowed to take care of the child for at least one year.  Afterwards, the child will then be transferred to the care of a woman who was too old to work in the field.  Oftentimes, these children will grow up not knowing who their parents were.  In the case of Frederick Douglass, however, he was able to know his mother as she took the effort of seeing her son after she worked in the field.  He however did not know who his father was though there were rumors that his master was his own father. 

The fourth theme is that of resignation among slaves.  The worst part about the situation of slaves was the acceptance of the dehumanizing treatment in the hands of their masters.  They did not fight for their rights nor did they do anything to improve their situation.  They lost the desire to aspire and become something more.  In fact, for some slaves they are happy and contented that they are owned by a rich and powerful master.  Frederick Douglass stressed this point in Chapter III and said “They seemed to think that the greatness of their masters was transferable to themselves. It was considered as being bad enough to be a slave; but to be a poor man's slave was deemed a disgrace indeed!”  It is common for slaves to quarrel amongst themselves about who has the richer and more powerful master.  They seemed to think that their qualities as a person are dependent upon their masters.  This is said because it shows that the slaves have lost their individuality, sense of self pride and self worth.

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Essay on Racial Profiling - Prejudice in Law Enforcement

Any person who lives on a foreign land which is thousands of miles away from home definitely does not like racial profiling.  Racial Profiling is the modern-day practice among police officers who ascribe certain behavior to a certain race.  This is based on the idea that race reveals more about a person’s behavior than any other personal characteristics.  For instance, after the 2001 terror attack, it is not unusual for a person who fits the description of a Middle-Eastern man or woman to be subjected to questioning inside airports and even while on the streets.

Majority say that racial profiling is just an offshoot of the 2001 terror attack.  They say that the inconvenience being suffered until today would not have happened were it not for the 2001 terror attack.  There is evidence however that will prove that racial profiling has been going on even before 2001.  For instance, Blacks have always been targeted by police officers.  According to Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics published annually by the US Department of Justice, in 1996, blacks, who made up approximately 12.8 percent of the nation’s population, represented 43.2 percent of the persons arrested for Part I violent crimes, and 32.4 percent of persons arrested for Part I property crimes. Part 1 violent crimes refer to crimes against persons such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault while Part 1 property crimes refer to burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson. (Jim Cleary 2) 

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The practice of racial profiling in law enforcement is common knowledge.  In fact, it is actually a given fact that the society has implicitly tolerated it for decades.  According to research a staggering number of people in the United States have been subjected to racial profiling.  Statistics shows that approximately thirty-two million Americans have already been victims of racial profiling and approximately eighty-seven million Americans are at a high risk of being subjected to future racial profiling during their lifetime.  (“Threat and Humiliation: Racial Profiling, National Security, and Human Rights in the United States” 1)

There are individuals who are against racial profiling on the basis that it violates the constitution and is ineffective in preventing crimes.  The Amnesty International argues that the constitution of the United States guarantees to every person the fundamental right to equal protection under the law regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.  Moreover, it is their argument that by subjecting the people to racial profiling, the state instills fear and distrust among members of the targeted communities.  This is harmful for the society in general because this might prevent the target communities or the minority groups from cooperating with the police in their criminal investigations or they may refuse to seek police assistance or protection in case they are victimized.  Moreover, when law enforcement officers focus on race they tend to pay less attention to other factors that may be indicative of actual criminal behavior. 

On the other hand, racial profiling does not exist if law enforcement officers were to be asked about this.  For them, it is a fiction of imagination of the people.  Race is never a characteristic of criminality and it does not indicate a person’s state of criminal mind.  If it happens that most of the people being stopped, searched and questioned on the streets and on airports, it is because the statistics itself shows that disproportionate amount of crimes being committed by minorities.  It is a reality that the minority groups control the majority of the organized criminal activity in the United States.  (Clayton Searle 2) In reality, it is very difficult to prove the existence of racial profiling in law enforcement because it is basically very subjective and is a matter of the mind.  Unless racial basis is actually admitted by law enforcement officers, the use of discretion of law enforcement officers will always be upheld.  This is why the US courts have in the vast majority of cases ruled in favor of the law enforcement officers who are accused of racial profiling. 

In my case, I have no issues with racial profiling.  I have not done anything wrong in the past nor do I have any intention of doing anything wrong in the future.  I have nothing to hide.  I believe that people who are afraid of being questioned have something to hide.  I have always thought that if the security had only been stricter, the 2001 terror attack would not have happened.  If I will be questioned in the future inside airports or any public place simply because of my race, I will understand and I will cooperate.  I know that the same is being done to protect the security of the general public.  I do hope that others like me will also submit themselves to scrutiny and inspection if ever they will be questioned by police officers. 

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Essay on Ethnicity

Even when I was a little boy I had always been dissatisfied with the situation in our country in Iran.  I was not pleased with the political situation since my countrymen were not given any freedom.  The government wanted to restrict public opinion.  The people who spoke against the government were either put into prison or exiled by the government.  At a young age, I began asking questions about my friends who are Jews who were victimized by some of the violent Muslim clerics in Iran.  I asked why Jews need to fear anybody.  I asked my parents why Jews cannot act like normal people and go out in streets without any fear of persecution.  I distinctly remembered wanting to help my Jewish brothers and sisters but my parents forbid me for fear of my own safety.

My feelings of doubt and uncertainty about the political and social situation in Iran were validated when I came here in the United States two years ago.  My parents made the decision to let me come here as immigrant to give me a better education and a better future.  Upon arriving here I immediately noticed the great disparity between the United States and Iran.  I was surprised to find out that the Jews in the United States are not being persecuted.  They are not being chased like criminals.  The Jews here also do not have to hide in their homes and they do not have to fear anybody.  Jews do not have to fear some Muslims here in the United States.  Jews can have a peace of mind here.
 

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In addition, the American people are more accommodating and open-minded.  The government is more tolerant of the people’s views and opinions.  Everyone is given the opportunity to speak their mind.  There are also laws that exist to ensure that the rights of the minorities are protected against any act of discrimination.  Independent organizations and trade unions are many which is an indication that minorities can organize themselves.  

Having lived both in Iran and the United States, I can say that I am in the position to compare their politics, government and culture.  I realized that one reason why the political and social situations in Iran are different from United States is freedom.  There is democracy in the United States.  I thought that the democracy being enjoyed by the people here in the United States does not exist in Iran.  I thought that it could have been better if democracy really exists in Iran.

Presently, I can say that I am enjoying my stay here in the United States.  I make it a point to become actively involved in school activities to meet new friends, learn new things and know more about the culture here in the United States.  I can say that my being a Jew who had lived in Iran and had experienced the difficulties of living as a minority in Iran has affected my decision making and selection making.  I think it has even affected my whole outlook in life.  While I have experienced greater freedom here in the United States, I remain aloof to everybody.  I am very careful with what I say and with what I do for fear that I may offend other persons.  I have friends who are non-Jews but I remain cautious so as not to offend anybody.  Whenever I make important decisions such as the school where I will transfer, the state or city that I will visit or the place where I will go to, I make it a point to check the situation there.  I try to make sure that there is no prior history of violence committed against a Jew.  Or, if possible I try to find out if there are other Jews who are my friends living within the area.  I am not being paranoid.  But I know that in this age and time every person need to be careful about his actions and the consequences of his actions. 

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Friday, July 29, 2011

Essay on The Ballad of the Sad Café by Carson McCullers

The Ballad of the Sad Café, by Carson McCullers, is a story about a lonely and isolated town that is once the location of a thriving café.  Nothing was happening in the town until the time when the dreary town became a witness to the love triangle among the three main characters of the story.  Marvin Macy the handsome man who had a history of nefarious and sadistic activities married Miss Amelia Evans who was a wealthy and lonely woman.  The two lived together only for ten (10) days before they separated because she refuses to consummate the marriage.  When Lymon arrived, he and Macy lived together until the former was charmed by Macy.

There are other writers who say that “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe” represents the unconscious self of Carson McCullers.  Just like the story of Amelia Evans and Marvin Macy, she and her husband both have extramarital affairs during their marriage.  In addition, one of the couples also had a homosexual affair.  Thus, for these writers, “The Ballad of the Sad Café” is Carson McCullers’ means of expressing her grief over her tumultuous married life. 

The story takes place in an old abandoned city in a small and lifeless town. However, this town was not always so empty and dreary. Ms Amelia Evans suddenly had an idea of opening a café.  For a while the town was alive.  The people were also happy.  For a while also Miss Amelia Evans was in love with the arrival of Lymon.




However, Lymon and Marvin Macy left together leaving Miss Amelia Evans alone and depressed.  The loneliness caused her to close down her café making the entire town boring and lifeless once more. The only lively atmosphere in town was now desolate and boarded up. Miss Amelia Evans, the owner, now spends her time barricaded in the café, staring down at the empty city every once in a while with her scary crossed-eyes.  

Because of her misfortunes, Miss Amelia made the decision to close her café and along with that went the last ounce of excitement in the abandoned district. The narrator has a very depressed tone of expression when describing the surroundings. It seems as though all hope has been lost. The loneliness of the town symbolizes the loneliness of the main characters in the story.  Miss Amelia Evans was loved by Marvin Macy yet she never loved him back.  Miss Amelia Evans loved Lymon yet he never loved her back.  Lymon loved Marvin Macy who also never loved him back. 

The café symbolizes the life of Miss Amelia herself. “It is a face like the terrible dim faces known in dreams--sexless and white, with two gray crossed eyes which are turned inward so sharply that they seem to be exchanging with each other one long and secret gaze of grief.”(3-5)  The narrator compares the life of Miss Amelia Evans to her café which once used to be lively and full of people.   At first she was happy when Lymon lived with her.  But when she was abandoned by the man she loved she lost all happiness. 

In conclusion, The Ballad of the Sad Café depicts a miserable small town plagued by absence of love, abandonment, depression, and dullness. The exuberance of the town was extinguished by the closing of the town’s centerpiece, which was the café. By analyzing the work of Carson McCullers, one can notice the many literary devices used by the author to enrich the story and give the reader a better sense of understanding and perspective.

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Essay on Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Catch 22 is a rule invoked by the military as basis every time a soldier refuses to fly on the ground of insanity.  The idea is that if a soldier claims insanity and asks to be grounded the request is immediately disapproved on the ground that the fact that he claims that he is insane makes him sane and is therefore eligible to fly.  A truly insane man, on the other hand, disregards his own safety and would want to be assigned and would ask for more missions.   The only way for an insane man to be grounded, however, is to ask for it.  The funny thing is that when a person asks for it then he is considered sane.  There is indeed no escape for this illogical military rule.  Since a soldier has no escape from his assignment via Catch-22, it has been used to signify a no-win situation where one does not have control over the matter at hand.

Catch 22 is a novel by Joseph Heller which depicts the insanity of war and the difficulty every person encounters in view of the rules of the institutions.  It stresses that individuals who seek to express their own individuality often find themselves at odds against the social rules and expectations which oftentimes are illogical and insane.




The setting of this story takes place during World War 2.  Yossarian, the lead character who is a bombardier, exerts every effort throughout the story just to avoid flying.   In one scene Yossarian fakes an illness just so he could be assigned in the ward of a hospital.  While in the ward, he lands a job to censor the letters of the enlisted men ranked below him. As Yossarian becomes more and more uninterested in the “monotonous job,” the boredom begins to drive him to true insanity.(8-9) At first, he tries to pretend to be sick and insane to get out of army service, however now he is truly on the verge of lunacy. He begins creating games for himself where he increasingly alters the letters to a greater and greater extent until they do not contain anything comprehensible.

An analysis of the story will reveal that the censoring of the letters is a symbol of Yossarian’s need for freedom. Yossarian is confined in the hospital with no control over his own liberty while serving with the army. Altering the contents of the letters is the only form of expression he has: “When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks of his wrist as though he were God.”(8-9) Altering the letters gives him the sense of power and the false feeling of having authority.   

When he modified the letters, Yossarian used the name of Washington Irving or Irving Washington in place of his own name.  This also led the military to suspect that Irving Washington was the name of an insubordinate soldier.  Washington Irving was a great American writer that lived from 1783-1859. This allusion made to Washington Irving was not done without any reason.  Just like Yossarian, Irving once had a change of heart.  During the war of 1812, Washington Irving very patriotically enrolled in the army but quickly lost his aspiration to serve but he withdrew after he had a change of heart. This is almost identical to Yossarian’s decision to withdraw from the war.


It is apparent that the author of Catch-22, Joseph Heller, had intended a deeper understanding to the context. By installing specific literary devices such as symbols, and allusions, he has allowed the reader to appreciate the text on a much greater level.

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