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The Snows of Kilimanjaro

Kimberly Garcia Professor Zino
English 162 W March 21, 2011

In Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” we are introduced to a couple that is stranded somewhere in Africa. We are noted of their trouble later on from a broken car and one’s fate with gangrene. The couple, Harry and Helen are constantly bickering at each other because Harry doesn’t take how seriously his health is deteriorating from the gangrene. Here and there, Harry looks into his past life and wishes to write about them but has never got the chance (or as Hemmingway says “write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well.”) Procrastination and death are the factors that Harry must face as his life dwindles away. Harry’s feelings can be related to Tuan’s chapter “Time in Experiential Space”.
In Tuan’s chapter, he mentions the Hopi Indians and their space. According to Tuan using Benjamin Whorf’s study, the Hopi recognize two realms of reality: manifested (objective) and manifesting (subjective) (Tuan 120). Tuan interprets it as “Manifested reality is the historical physical universe. It includes all that is or has been accessible to the senses, the present as well as the past, but it excludes everything that we call the future. Manifesting or subjective reality is the future and the mental”. We understand that given Harry’s situation, he doesn’t have a future because of his life fading away. So instead he thinks of the past and in between his failed attempt of writing about his life in his predicted future. In our minds, we explore time past, present and future because of the freedom given to roam. As immobile as Harry is, he doesn’t limit his ability to think about tense. He’s act is similar to that of the poet John Dyer as he reminisced about his youth.
When Harry is about to die, he dreams that he visits the Kilimanjaro mountain and as mentioned in the epigraph the Western summit, Masai “Ngaje Ngai” is called the “House of God”. Along the way, a frozen preserved leopard is found. Leopards are naturally known to be loners than that of other big cats that go in groups such as lions. Harry was somewhat a loner himself as even though his wife provides company, it doesn’t matter if she at his side or not. He even lies to her about loving her. It ultimately suggests that Harry went into some kind of afterlife as the leopard did trying to go up the mountain but died. His soul is mobile to roam freely than it did in his body.

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Kimberly Garcia

English 162 W

March 14, 2011

The relationship between Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” and Tuan’s chapter “Architectural Space and Awareness” is shown with the House of Usher itself and how it confines the characters that set place within it. The claustrophobia of the characters shows the limitation and ghastly effect that the house produces. Leaving the characters only so much to endure.

According to Tuan, “Consider the sense of an “inside” and an “outside,” of intimacy and exposure, or private life and public space. People everywhere recognize these distinctions, but the awareness may be quite vague. Constructed form has the power to heighten the awareness and accentuate, as it were, the difference in emotional temperature between “inside” and “outside”” (Tuan 107) When we approach this idea, we can relate it to the way the narrator of Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” is first introduced to the outside of the house. As he said, “with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit” foreshadowing that it is the house that deteriorates everybody’s mood and health. The narrator’s awareness is vague compared to what is going on inside the house. Although, he soon comes to realize that the private life of Roderick and Madeline reflect the house’s condition.

Both siblings have some sort of problems associated with the house; Madeline’s loss of control for her limbs and Roderick’s constant headaches. Once Madeline dies or so the narrator and Roderick thought, Roderick’s senses become heighten. His fear of hearing things has created a different emotional temperature for our narrator comparing to when he was outside and safe. It is our narrator that allows us to also differentiate “inside” and “outside”. Everything inside the house causes stress, mental paranoia, and deterioration of one’s health. Whereas at the end when the narrator escapes the house, he is safe outside while the house crumbles to the floor. As it would take an outsider to confirm Roderick’s speculations that it was the house causing all the problems.

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Kimberly Garcia

English 162W

March 9, 2011

Professor Zino

In the short story “The Lottery” by author Shirley Jackson, we can see the relation between her work and Tuan’s chapter “Mythical Space and Place” when it comes to traditions kept by people. Focusing on Tuan’s principles, we can identify what kind of values the town that Jackson illustrates for her audience.
“Two principles kinds of mythical space can be distinguished. In the one, mythical space is a fuzzy area of defective knowledge surrounding the empirically known…In the other it is the spatial component of a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities” (Tuan 86). The first principle mentioned, can relate to the town’s tradition of sacrifice for a good harvest. However, the fading of this ritual poses an unfair advantage to the stoners for the unfortunate. In this case, it was Tessie Hutchinson that was to be stoned to death. Nobody really remembered the ritual but remember the violence involved as said by the narrator, “Although the villagers had forgotten the ritual and lost the original black box, they still remembered to use stones” (Jackson 232). This illustrates the inhuman values that the town holds for something that cannot be proven.
Following the second principle Tuan states, if brought to other perspectives outside that town, it would be seen as barbaric and unjust. The village that resides close to them are discussing about abandoning the lottery and already getting grief from the village that keeps the tradition alive. A character by the name of Old Man Warner gives his opinions once told of the news, “Pack of crazy fools…Listening to the young folks, nothing’s good enough for them. Next thing you know, they’ll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work anymore, live that way for a while”(Jackson 250) In a way, Old Man Warner contradicts his own opinion, because how is it that if the village was to abandon this tradition, they’d be heading back to the stone age where it was considered barbaric? Whereas this tradition has been kept for a very long time within the town and this form of capital punishment can be timed back to the ancient times as a way to keep a society more structured. He is criticizing the ancient times whereas this tradition is “ancient”.
Coming back to Tuan’s theory in relation to this story, what makes something mythical is the unknown. What goes beyond our knowledge is what we make up in order to fill that void of the unknown. To the village that keeps this tradition, how can they associate the fact that if they don’t get a good harvest, it is because everyone remaining in the village is at fault some way or another. Therefore they must weed out the bad omen. It doesn’t make sense to the world but it does to them. Jackson definitely executed Tuan’s theory by mentioning herself for the purpose of writing this short story “to shock the story’s readers with a graphic demonstration of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives” (Introduction of the Author 247)

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Spaciousness and Crowding

Kimberly Garcia                                                                                              February 14, 2011

Professor Zino                                                                                                 English 162W

            From Taun’s “Spaciousness and Crowding” and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, we are given an understanding of the limitations or freedom given to us with space. Referring also to defying standards such gravity as Tuan mentioned in last week’s reading “Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values”. In Kafka’s work, we are introduced with the character Gregor Samsa as he awoke from bed as a bug. The transformation is unexpected and bewildering to him but he chooses to make the best of his unfortunate situation even though he is reluctant at first. He is confronted with the process of assimilating to his new body and the spaces around him.

            The author Kafka already demonstrated Tuan’s “Spaciousness” with the title “The Metamorphosis”.  The word metamorphosis is defined as a change of form, structure or substance. Once a man and already comfortable with the laws of gravity and space biologically, Gregor Samsa is reborn as an insect and must learn it all over again. We can see so already within the first paragraph “He was lying on his back, which was hard, as if plated in armor, and when he lifted his head slightly he could see his belly: rounded, brown, and divided into stiff arched segments: on top of it the blanket, about to slip off altogether, still barely clinging” (Kafka, pg.301) According to Tuan’s first reading “Space, Place, and the Child”, Gregor Samsa may well be related to a baby that is first, lying on its back, can lift its head slightly, and kick around its blanket with the control of its limbs (Tuan, pg. 21). As Tuan mentions in “Spaciousness and Crowding”, “ An infant is un-free, and so are prisoners and the bedridden. They cannot, or have lost their ability to move freely; they live in constricted spaces” (Tuan, pg.52) Like an infant on the bed, Gregor is a prisoner of his own body and space.

            The change of body form for Gregor has proved to be uncomfortable and laborious. For a person size is the way a person feels as he stretches his arm (Tuan, pg. 53). Since Gregor is an insect, how does his size affect him? How can he expand himself the way we could in terms of speed and distance? (example: bike to car to small aircraft) (Tuan, pg. 53) When Gregor realizes that he is late for work, he struggles to get out of bed. He thought with the help of the maid and his father “All they would have to do would be to slip their arms under his curved back, lift him out of bed, bend down with their burden, and then wait patiently while he flipped himself right side up onto the floor, where, one might hope, his little legs would acquire some purpose” (Kafka, pg. 305) Using the help of others, Gregor is not confident enough to help himself out first and therefore feels vulnerable and exposed (Tuan, pg. 54). This applies to the Western world although, contrast to be open and free Tuan mentions that a claustrophobic “sees small tight places as oppressive containment, not as contained spaces where warm fellowship or meditation in solitude is possible” (pg. 54) This concept could firmly agree with Kafka’s character as Gregor once before was a man of isolation considering he locks doors, even at home. He is challenged with the idea of letting go his solitude in exchange of understanding his new space. The environment of a small room he is given affects his space as he is bigger and wider than humans.

            As individuals, we are given the choice to defy gravity and the space given to us. We can expand or limit our space. However it is the expanded space that gives us freedom to do as we please. The transformation that we experience from a child to an adult is a process of assimilation just as it is for Gregor Samsa waking up as an insect.

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House on Mango Street


Kimberly Garcia                                                                                              February 7, 2011

English 162W                                                                                                 Professor Zino

            Referring to both Yi-Fu Tuan’s “Space, Place, and the Child” and Sandra Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street”, the authors illustrate what space and place means to an individual. More so for Tuan as the development of space and place whereas Cisneros’s protagonist tries to define her space and place. As we discussed in class, a “place” was somewhere anyone can attend and a “space” was somewhere intimate for an individual. For example, a place could be New York where everyone can go but a space can be your room which is limited to some.

            Author Yi-Fu Tuan describes the gradual transmission of understanding space and place from infancy to adulthood. As infants, we don’t understand where we are, let alone feel emotion or connection to places. We could only feel our surroundings which is what we are restricted to. However as Tuan points out, that is when we understand our “space”. Examples include infants exploring with their mouths as they are being breastfed or movements such as kicking the blanket. As we grow from infancy to young children, we begin to understand “place”. It is something that we are not familiar with. As Tuan explains “Place, to a child, is a large and somewhat immobile type of object”; there is no security in the environment, just an element that attracts the eye.

            Likewise for author Sandra Cisneros, her protagonist in her short story identifies her “places” but no “spaces”. In the beginning, we are immediately aware of her places; “Loomis on the third floor, Keeler, Paulina”. Although the “places” she mentions seem like “spaces” at first, they’re not because of the constant moving her family does. Her “places” are not intimate enough to be labeled as a “space”. She is constantly told that they are temporary places and therefore doesn’t connect to them. She certainly didn’t connect to her previous home on Loomis street after the nun questions her place with a tone of “there?”. Nor did it feel like a “space” when it had been robbed. She is given the ideas and fantasies of what a “space” should be by her parents. As she says “They always told us that one day we would move into a house, a real house that would be ours for always so we wouldn’t have to move each year …….our house would be white with trees around it, a great big yard and grass growing without a fence”

            Opposite to how the infant feels in Tuan’s perspective, the character in Cisneros’ story cannot identify her space because it wasn’t explored enough to be called a “space”. Her parents’ fantasy of a real home is not a “space” but a “place” until they get the chance to experience it.

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