Grapes of Wrath Quiz Response

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CC: DVD Talk

To what extent should a novelist be true to facts when writing about history? I think that a novelist should be true to the facts when writing about history, or make it clear that the story is a work of fiction and that historical facts have been exaggerated or altered.  The ramifications of writing a story that is not factual and allowing people to believe it is can be damaging. The nature of people is that they will believe a story if it sounds like it fits. When people read and learn something new, they want to share. In the past decade, social media has provided the ability to spread news like wildfire. In a matter of minutes, a false story can be shared to several hundred people without anyone ever questioning whether it’s valid or not.  This is such a huge problem that there was a website created so that more cautious people can check facts before spreading news. People believe what they read or hear, and then it becomes a part of their knowledge base. Take any story you hear about a politician right now–if you’re a Democrat, you’ll believe any negative you hear about a Republican candidate, and this goes the other way as well.

With this novel, though, I don’t believe there were lasting negative ramifications. According to Windschuttle, Californians did get very upset when the novel was published, and I can understand and agree with this response. Grapes of Wrath painted California as a place where the locals took advantage of the Okies, that Californians lied on their pamphlets about there being work and good wages. The truth is that during the Great Depression there was work and room for the Okies in California, only a very small number didn’t have homes, and all the Okies had work. In fact there still weren’t enough people to harvest the fields in California even with all the migrants. I don’t know if Steinbeck’s story kept people from migrating to California, but I can see why Californians would be upset being painted as villains. In reality, no real damage was done because people did migrate and were successful.

The truths I learned from Steinbeck’s stretching and breaking the truth had less to do with actual history and more to do with what people were capable of.  Perseverance is a theme in the book and a quality that everyone who wants to achieve better conditions in life needs to possess.  My understanding of California history wasn’t clouded by this story because I didn’t know a lot about it in the first place, and it hasn’t affected my experience in California.  I guess I didn’t pay much attention to whether the facts were real or not.  What I did pay attention to was how the characters’ stories developed and how they survived their challenges.  My understanding of the human condition was definitely enlightened.  Windschuttle comments, “Many of Steinbeck’s admires claim that he is an observer of the human condition rather than the proselytizer of a political position…” I agree with this statement. Rather than writing a history book full of facts, I think Steinbeck was trying to artistically express the human condition no matter what situation a person is in. There’s always a human need to better oneself or to try to make a situation better. People struggled during the Great Depression in ways that we will never understand. Steinbeck made me feel this struggle through the Oakies’ story.  In Steinbeck’s time, religion played a huge role in everybody’s lives. The parallel that Windschuttle makes to the Biblical Exodus is understandable.  I think Steinbeck told a story that any religious person, especially those who struggle, can relate to. It was a globally familiar theme at the time and easy to understand.

Windschuttle claims, “The Grapes of Wrath was always meant to be taken literally.”  I disagree with this opinion. I think Steinbeck researched enough to know the facts, but I think he was inspired by his research enough to create a story that would help others sympathize with the plight of immigrants or anyone who struggled to survive during the Great Depression.  Even though I felt that some of the story was a little exaggerated in places, I was still able to sympathize with the Joad’s experience.

Until next time,

Heather

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From Brain to Paper

It’s like watching a movie. A masterpiece in your mind unfolding before you. Joy and headaches follow with the creation. The people in your head become both friends and enemies. The places become like second homes, and soon you long to actually walk the streets you have imagined, smell the air, and hear the sounds for real.

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CC: Dawn Golden

Although it seems as if the story is all there in your head, it’s really not. I first started writing my story freshman year. I thought it was brilliant. I had characters that seemed fairly solid, and I had a basic plot. I had these things so I started writing. I did ok. Finals for school came around, so I had to stop writing. During the summer I came back to it. But I hated the whole thing. I scrapped everything I had written and started over. I kept a few characters and got rid of some. This time I thought things through a little more, then I started writing again. It, for the most part, wasn’t all that bad. In fact, some things are in the draft that I’m currently writing.

I thought I could write the whole book. Then my inspiration backfired. My friends that had been my inspiration for characters and were urging me on, changed. They stopped talking to me and we drifted apart. I lost the will to write my story; my muses were gone. I locked the story away for the rest of sophomore year. It sat there and rotted for the summer. I almost forgot about it, but it was always there in the back of my mind. At the end of the summer I was cleaning out my Google Drive where I store most of my stories, and I found it. Out of curiosity I opened it and read what I had written. A fire was lit again, and I had ideas that had been stewing for the whole summer that I didn’t even know had been there.

There were definitely things I needed to edit though. As my friends had changed I found that the characters that they were based off of had too. The characters had become their own person and no longer emulated the same traits that their real-life counterpart did. That’s when I realized that I didn’t need my friends to write the story anymore. I set to work. I edited what I had written and then didn’t touch it. Instead I pulled out a notebook and plotted what I wanted to do with the story. I mapped out the books that I wanted to make with these characters and ideas. Then I made detailed character descriptions and their development throughout the story.

When I had done all that I realized that I needed a better location for the story to take place in. I have now made a whole universe for the characters. Twenty one planets I created. I wrote out their purposes and role. It was a lot of work. I then created a polytheistic religion for my universe, complete with different Gods and Goddess with each one having a role.

After I finished with all of my planning, then I re-edited what I had written. When I was satisfied with my editing, I allowed myself to keep going. I’m still writing the first book, but when I look back at what I have written so far or pour over my notes, I feel a sense of pride swell in my chest. I created all of that, and it’s actually good.

For those of you who plan on writing a book or have an idea, keep in mind that a lot of time and work will be going into it. Even though at times it’s a pain and re-reading what you have written may discourage you, keep going. It is worth it. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your characters come to life on paper.

Until next time,

Heather

Demons

I believe in demons. Not the paranormal type. But little whisperings of doubt. Negative emotions. Things like depression and anxiety. I picture them as little demons sitting on our shoulders, whispering evil and dark things in our ears. They bring us down and remind us of our faults and challenges. These are the demons I believe in.

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CC: Micheal Brack

Every person had different demons that they struggle with. I know mine is anxiety. One of my friend’s is stress. I know of people who struggle with addiction, some with depression, loneliness, phobias, and many others. Well all have different ways of dealing with these demons. There are times when I listen to my demon. I let it get to me and break me down. Other days I’m good at managing it. It’s never gone, but at least it’s quiet.

Finding a positive way to make the demons quiet is hard to find. Spending time with friends, watching a favorite show or movie, or playing the piano seems to help me. For my friend who struggles with stress, it’s writing. One thing that I’ve done to help me is to make these demons tangible. I have drawn out a few, giving them faces and names. I named anxiety Vae Umbra, Latin for awful shadow. I named stress Onus, meaning heavy burden.

Giving them names and faces almost made it seem easier to battle with them. Making them physical meant that there was something to beat now, something that could truly be overcome. The more real it is, even though it adds a sense of fear, the easier it is to face. Some days I want to punch anxiety in its face. Imagining what it looks like helps me imagine me kicking its butt. Creating images for the demons had also helped me come up with a basic story idea that I want to develop more. Creating is another thing that helps me cope.

I think that if every person could pin down their demon they would have a better chance of keeping them at bay. We would all be a little less sad and a little less crazy. There would definitely be a lot less dysfunction in the world. Find a way to fight your demons. It will be hard, but victory is in view.

Until next time,

Heather

Does Money Solve or Cause More Problems?

People often say that money solves all problems, but if we really look deep does it solve problems or just make matters worse? Money makes the world go round. Not going to lie about that. Money is used to buy food, shelter, and medicine, all things we need to survive. Money can be a good thing. But money is the cause of one big problem. Greed. No amount of money can solve greed. It is a monster that keeps wanting more and more.

There will always be a want for money whether it be for good reasons or bad. Like I said before money makes the world go round.  People are in a constant struggle trying to get enough money for their families or for their own personal gain. In John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath, we can see the fine line between the greedy men and the men caring for their families. In chapter 5 it describes the greedy banks as “monsters” and that “they ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses” as they tore up the land using tractors, trying to squeeze every last drop of money out of the land. The man on the tractor is made out to be a villain as he tells the locals that he has to plow through their home. We, too, think he is another greedy man until we find out that he has a family that he is providing for. If he doesn’t “follow orders” he’ll lose his job. He is only a pawn in the hands of the bank. This want for money caused more of a problem than there already was.

We need money in our daily lives. Money gets us lots of things, but are all necessary? Henry David Thoreau says that there is “one necessity of life, food.” I find that to be true. But nowadays we need more than food. Money goes towards tv cable and phone bills. Electricity and heating also need to be used. Clothing needs to be purchased. The list keeps growing and growing. We need money, therefore money solves our problems. Hungry? For two dollars you can drive through a window and get a hamburger. Hunger problem solved. Cold? Buy a jacket. Problem solved. Money does solve problems. The only problem is that money can’t solve everything. We rely on money to solve our issues. Money can’t solve our personal problems. Money is a fake when it comes to these things. Money doesn’t make you happy. It may seem like it does but money is material. You could have all the things in the world and you could still be the biggest grump. We can’t rely on money on too many things. That’s when it creates problems.

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I have often wondered what life would be like if we didn’t have or need any form of currency. I got this idea from Stephanie Meyer’s book, The Host. The alien race that takes over the Earth believes in an utopian society where nobody has to pay for anything. For the most part it is peaceful. The non peaceful part being the aliens becoming parasites to the human race and taking over their minds and the humans fighting back. But if that didn’t happen then there wouldn’t be a story. I hope that one day we can reach this utopia where we won’t need money to solve our problems and where money doesn’t make the world go round.

But for now money solves more problems than it creates.

Until next time,

Heather

Me and My People

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to go to Anime Los Angeles. I have been going to conventions for about three years now, and I absolutely love them. Not only can I get merchandise that represents my fandom that I can’t find in regular stores, but the atmosphere is amazing. Why? All I have to say is that I’m a Whovian and I have thirty new friends. As much as I hate to admit it, but people like me are outcasts. A lot of people have no clue what we are talking about, and it makes us feel like loners. That is until we come to these conventions and are immediately connected by our interests. People don’t judge us for what we watch there or how terrible our social skills are. We are united and resemble a sightly dysfunctional family.

As my friend and I left the convention center to go get some lunch (prices for food are insanely high) we noticed that many other cosplayers, just like ourselves, were walking the streets near the center. I can only imagine what people driving by were thinking. There were a few pedestrians who asked us what why we were dressed up and some even asked for pictures. Sitting at the table with us was a Zuko and Azula from Avatar the Last Airbender and a Link from Legend of Zelda, and we were having a conversation about whether it was better to be time traveling with the Doctor or blogging for Sherlock Holmes?

If everybody was able to have a connection similar to this the world would be a much happier place. It doesn’t have to be about fandoms, but if people felt open to each other and weren’t put down by others just for being different, we would have a perfect world. Sadly I don’t see the day coming where the football and cheer captains understand the beautiful oddity of Doctor Who any time soon.

One day I do hope that we will all be able to unite and treat each others as equals. But until then I’ll be enjoying myself at Comic-Con.

Heather

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What I’ve Learned During High School

When I first started high school I’ll admit that I was intimidated. It was daunting, and I had no idea what to expect. T.V. shows, movies, and books made high school a scary place. According to them high school was crawling with bullies and that the ladder of popularity was all that mattered. I’m glad to say that my high school didn’t really have those problems due to its size. But I could never prepare myself for what was to come. Here are my tips for getting through.

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CC BY-SA 3.0 NY

Whether you like it or not, your freedom is restricted. Teachers pile on homework and all your time is spent completing these assignments so you don’t drown in school work. Free time is earned. Finish homework fast so you can take a break from school. Procrastination will only add to your anxiety. 

One warning I got did come true, no matter how badly I didn’t want it to. Friends that you’ve had since middle school change. In high school interests become more apparent. And sometime you and your friend’s interests are different, and it pulls you apart. I still have really good friends from elementary school. Not all friends change, but prepare yourself so it doesn’t hurt too bad when it does happen. 

Despair and discouragement are around every corner. Find things to do everyday to make you happy. Listening to my favorite band while walking around on campus has helped me. I love track and having the opportunity to hurdle and run everyday is something I look forward too.

Speaking of things to look forward too, make sure to plan fun things to do. It can be things like a beach day or shopping. Every so often I plan bigger things. I buy tickets to various conventions which gives me things to look forward to, and I enjoy them. Find fun things to do every few weeks.

Find support in your teachers too. They aren’t as bad as they seem. We get used to middle school teachers, who aren’t too big on the helping part, at least in my experience. Just talking to them or sending them a quick email can help you a lot.

I hope that I was able to help at least a little bit with high school!

Until next time,

Heather

Defensive Driving

It was my first time driving. Ever. Needless to say, I was terrified when my first driving lesson came around. With no idea what to expect, I was picked up around four o’clock by a graying man who, for the sake of anonymity, I’m going to call Paul. As I got behind the wheel he noticed that I was tired. After a full day of school and a rather grueling track practice I wasn’t surprised that I looked haggard. Paul said that next time I should drink a cup of coffee. I, being a Mormon, don’t drink coffee, so I told him, “I don’t drink coffee.” His response was, “What in the world is wrong with you?!”  So I informed him that I was Mormon. I noticed a flicker in his eyes as he said, “Ohh.”

It was my first time driving a car so naturally Paul had me drive on PCH, Beach Blvd. and the 405 Freeway during rush hour. I was a nervous wreck! While I was driving Paul started asking me things about my religion. And not normal questions, weird ones, ones that I had never heard before. An example of one of these questions was “Why are all the Mormon churches built out of bricks?” First of all, not all of our churches are built out of brick. I told him that bricks were building materials and that’s why we built our churches out of them. It was difficult to stay focused on learning how to drive while trying to intelligently answer his questions and not crash the car.

Towards the end of the lesson it had gotten dark and had started to rain. As I was driving back to my house Paul said to me, “Don’t be offended but I believe that Mormonism is a cult.” My heart crawled to my throat and I almost swerved the car. The whole time this man had been judging me as I shared with him my religion, which is very important to me. I was also shocked that a sixty-something-year-old man told a sixteen-year-old-girl that he believed her religion was a cult. I was speechless.

A minute later we drove past an accident.  Paul asked me my favorite question of the night. “If we were in that accident and we died, what do you believe would happen to us?” Now I had to answer a question knowing that this man thought that I was a part of a cult and was judging my religion. I gave about a thirty second answer and tried my hardest to change the subject and keep it changed. I made it home in one piece and sat on my couch with visions of the lesson flashing through my mind like PTSD.

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CC: Pixabay

Most of the time when people talk about defensive driving, they’re talking about keeping an eye out for other drivers on the road and staying safe. My first experience with defensive driving had to do with defending my religion while driving a car. Not exactly ideal for my first experience behind the wheel. I’m not super crazy about making my next appointment, but I’ll have to make it eventually. Wish me luck.

Until next time,

Heather