Fasting

In Fasting, Desai uses point of view, diction, and dialogue to show that Arun is scared of the unknown; that his indian background leads him to not be familiar with nature, as as a result he is frightened by it.

Arun’s point of view is explored, with his thoughts telling us what he thinks of a beautiful summer day. “But how passionately he prefers its post office, its shops, its dry-cleaning stores” shows us how much Arun wants to be indoors. He loves the small buildings in this isolated small town. Phrases such as “back of his neck begin to prickle, as if in warning” show how opposed he is to the outdoors. He takes what is a beautiful summer day, the kind of day most people would enjoy, and he manages to make it seem negative in his head. Even at the very start of the piece, he “stands despondent” and is unable to make any excuses for staying at home, or in the town. He doesn’t want to go to the beach, and even when he does go, he dislikes it. Since Arun is indian, we can assume that he is from a city, and not from a small village. His had probably spent his entire life in a small area, not really exploring outside of the city. After all, there was no need to.  All of these details reinforce that Arun doesn’t want to try new things; he is quite literally afraid of the unknown.

The diction that is used throughout the piece tells the reader how Arun is frightened. Phrases like “he starts wildly” show that he is almost amazed by the fact that he may have to go out in nature. “ugly, jarring note” gives the reader the impression that the sounds are discordant. Arun takes the sounds of nature, and the author uses diction to almost twist it. Instead of feeling at ease, the words convey a sense of nervousness; something is not alright. Finally, diction is used to make it seem like the woods want to actively stifle human life, with “creeping curtain of insidious green, these grasses stirring with insidious life, and bushes with poisonous berries”. This phrase is used to say that the active, lively woods are unnatural, and that even the innocent seeming bushes are poisonous to Arun. The use of diction to twist a summer day into a scary forest implies that he is panicky about going to the lake.

Finally, dialogue is used in this work to show a contrast between Arun and his family. “‘Summertime,’ he hears her singing, ‘when the living is eeh-zee—’” shows that faced with the same set of facts, the family members are drawing very different conclusions. The only reason for this to happen would be the background that each grew up in. Arun grew up in crowded India; the Pattons have been close to nature since they were born. This illustrates the difference in the two worldviews. “we’re not going to sit here waiting for them to come home—oh no.’” shows that Mrs. Patton is an independent woman. However, it also shows that Arun is willing to follow. He isn’t going outside because he wants to try something new, he is going outside because once his host family has their minds made up, they intend to follow through with something. This is important because of the lack of something: Arun never wants to go outside. Because his host family wants to, we can see that he is unhappy about the situation, but compliant.

Anita Desai masterfully uses strong diction, focused dialogue, and Arun’s point of view to show how he is scared of the unknown. These are also used to reinforce how Arun’s indian background colors his way of looking at a pure summer day. The meaning of the story is how the unknown is always frightening.

Recap

  1. Reading like a professor

This book showed me the different ways authors will convey things to their readers. I simply didn’t know about how authors will try and reference other texts, or how rain and other events tend to relate to christianity. This unit showed me the complexities that are in the reading we embark on this year.

 

  1. The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing

This book taught me how to write concisely and how to not go overboard with the words. The people who read what I write don’t want to read thousands of words that could be summarized in a few paragraphs. That is the most important takeaway I gathered from this unit. Other things that I want to explore more include: flow, endings, and paragraphs. I had never thought of paragraphs as units of thought before, which is a comparison I liked a lot. I connected this with computer science in my head, thinking of a paragraph as a nested data structure. There are infinite types, but some work better than others to do the same thing.

 

  1. Essay Writing

This presentation was mostly on how to write essays for the AP Lit exam. I found the central question that we always have to answer to be the most useful thing in that powerpoint. Knowing what the grader wants is central in writing a good answer. I plan on using this statement for the rest of the year.

 

  1. Close Reading Practice

Practicing everything that we had learned by using “A Jury of her Peers” was a great in class activity. Engaging with the class made me realize the number of different interpretations there were of the exact same story and words. Applying everything that we had learned was also lots of fun. After doing this activity, I went home and re read Ender’s Game. A bunch of religious references and other bits and pieces all jumped out at me.

 

  1. All Textbook Activities

These were fun to do. I enjoyed applying all of the skills that we were learning in class to real material, stuff that was closer to the AP Exam. I felt that the poetry section was harder than the prose. In my opinion, prose has a much easier to understand plot, whereas poetry has many more interpretations than prose. Realizing the differences between them this early is something I am thankful for.

 

  1. Peer Review

We already posted our reflections on this in Classroom, but there are a few things that I realized after doing it. This assignment helped me so much with my writing skills. Having multiple students review my writing and tell me what parts they liked and disliked is something that will help me write better.

 

  1. Terms List

I have been studying the terms in class and at home for a while now. I have gone through about 50 of them, and I like to learn them everyday. Some words are ones we covered last year in British Literature. Others are completely brand new to me. Learning these allows me to describe literature much better.