Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Megan Ferguson
October 3, 2012
Understanding Literature
Dr. Juniper Ellis


The two poems, the short story, and my experience at Zen Mediation all fall under the same umbrella. This umbrella can be categorized as one that reflects an opposite belief that I first originally had about each story, poem, or experience. In The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator, Montresor, approaches the situation at hand in a different tactic that differs from the method that I expected. Barbara Hamby also approaches the way of describing the materialistic and consumed lifestyle of Americans in a unique way in the poem Ode to American English. This unique manner also arises from the works of John Ciardi in the poem titled Suburban with the situational irony that occurs. A reaction that was different than what I originally expected was with my Zen Mediation experience last night.

             To be specific, The Cask of Amontillado is a story of revenge. Montresor believes that he must seek revenge from his acquaintance, Fortunato, because he believes that he has insulted him in some way and he now must pay the price. Montresor ultimately does not murder Fortunato directly; rather he humiliates him out of anger. This act was the opposite of what I was expecting and I believed Montresor would of reacted differently. He “began to vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche” (pg. 1065) Montresor was driven by society and his surroundings to complete this act of revenge.

Barbara Hamby describes the materialistic American society in a very unique way. This way made it hard to distinguish if she was portraying the negative or positive side of our American culture. She begins to list all the popular American contributes such as “its pill-popping Hungarians goulash of everything” or “their Doris Day optimism” Her tone is unique what poking fun at Americas society. What surprised me about this poem was when I first read the title I thought this piece of literature would be a list of all the amazing things that American has to offer. Hambly does this in an interesting manner which was opposite from how I thought she would approach it.

In the poem, Suburban, John Ciardi transforms Mrs. Friar into a symbolic figure of the suburbs by speaking through this incident with the dog. How the narrator approached the situation is not how I intended it would play out.  This is an example of situational irony that is presented because the outcome was significantly different from what was expected At first I believed that after Mr. Ciardi talked to Mrs. Friar on the phone, he would not clean up the “large repulsive object” because his dog “was in Vermont with my son, who had gone fishing.”. He agrees to comply and picks up the turd and brings it to his own property.

The Zen mediation class that I was apart of helped me understand how different my feelings before and after this mediation was. I walked over to this mediation class with a racing mind and a fast walked pace. I had a million thoughts running through my head. “What if I do something wrong?” “What if they know I’m the new person?” “I have a Spanish test tomorrow!” All of these non-stop thoughts clouded around me as I settled into the mediation room. It turns out that I have newfound love for mediation. Although I couldn’t get my posture quite right and I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated with myself as I began to think about other things, this mediation was the best endeavor that has happened to me of course, besides going to my Understanding Lit class of course! (J) I felt an overwhelming sense of stillness in my life. As I am always hustling and bustling through my days, this physical, mental, and emotional stillness was not what I was expecting.

The two poems, the short story, and my new-born mediation love all revolve around the idea that one must not judge a book by its cover or title. These four matters all had in common the pre-conceived notion I had about all of them and how it changed as I analyzed and interpreted each piece. 

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