Friday, June 3, 2011

Jane Austen, Eyes, Quotes from Bees

I've been doing a lot of reading since school is out for me. And so it's SUMMER!!!

Since I love Jane Austen, I do one "sequel" a month here on my blog. This month's "sequel" was called I was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison (Cora is an interesting name). It's a journal written by Jenny Cooper, Jane's cousin. I found it really amusing and I was glad it had a happy ending. I found the characters to be really fun and Jenny seemed like a normal 16-year-old-girl in England at the time--obsessed with the balls and gowns and needing to get married, like so many of Austen's own characters. A satisfying and quirky read.

The last book I read in English class was Their Eyes were watching God (see below for notes). I've decided to write some more on the novel. First off, it is by Zora Neale Hurston, a Harlem Renaissance writer. The novel is a buildingsroman and modernist work of the life of Janie, set in Florida. She marries as she matures. Her first marriage to Logan, an old farmer who does not treat her very well, is when she is 16 years old. She marries him due to her grandmother's wishes for her to have a secure marriage. But Janie is unsatisfied with it and wants to be in love, which is what this novel is ultimately about--her search for love. Janie runs off and marries Jody and they go to a town of all African Americans (There is little interaction of races). Jody keeps Janie from her true self, by making her cover her hair and working in the store doing events. Their relationship is best symbolized by the mule; the mule represents Janie--to Jody she is a symbol of his wealth and power. The store is ultimately Janie's prison.

When Jody dies, ten-something years later, Janie is set free. Her third marriage is her true one, where she has achieved love. The pear tree represents Janie's sexual awakening, where as the honey bee and honeysuckle represent her marriage to Tea Cake. Tea Cake is a younger commoner whom Janie falls in love with, even though he has no money. They go to the Muck--the Everglades--where Janie and Tea Cake work picking beans. The Muck represents the ideal life Janie has with Tea Cake. Then there's the hurricane. They are warned to get out by those going east, but they remain, with others who don't want to leave. Ultimately, all of Janie's marriages end (by death) and at the end Janie returns to the town and to the house she lived with Jody. Janie is telling this tale to her best friend Phoebe, the bearer of the tale. This is a modernist novel, if you look closely. At the end of it, Janie has found peace despite the storm and difficulties, love for herself despite society's judgments, and her voice to tell her story. Fabulously recommended.

I also read the Secret Life of Bees (see below) and I've also decided to post some quotes: 
Putting black cloths on the hives is for us. I do it to remind us that life gives way into death, and then death turns around and gives way into life.” -August, p.206
Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about” -August, p.148
"Some things don't matter much. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person's heart--now, that matters. The whole problem with people is...they know what matters, but they don't choose it...The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters."   (This one stuck with me)
And you can read more of her quotes here:
There are a lot of great ones, this is just a sample.  I'm so glad I read this book...I wish I owned it now!