Posts tagged classic
Posts tagged classic
Slaughterhouse-5 by Kurt Vonnegut begins with explaining how Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time; which means he travels to different points in his life completely out of order. He’s a teenager in World War II one moment and then on a zoo on an alien plant with a porn star. Pilgrim begins going to college to be an optometrist, but then is drafted in to the army to fight in Germany. After the war he finished his degree, married a woman and had two children, then he was abducted by aliens. They take him to a zoo on their planet Tralfamadore and bring him a mate who was a porn star on earth. The author continuously repeats the saying ‘So it goes.’ I think that its a coping mechanism. Something horrible happened, so it goes. Also the timeline is all over the place, considering the main character is unstuck in time it makes sense, but it’s a little hard to keep track of what happens when. I personally enjoy books with unusual timelines and i enjoyed this book very much. I liked the irony and the dry sense of humor the author has.
Cry, The Beloved Country is about apartheid when it was beginning in 1946 in South Africa. The book follows the journey of a black priest named Stephen Kumalo, as he goes from his small tribal village to the large city Johannesburg in search of his sister, brother and son. He was sent a letter from another priest Msimangu telling him that his sister was very ill and he must come at once. When he arrives he discovers that his sister is leading a very spiritually sick life. She repents of her life and stays with Kumalo with the intention of returning to the village. His brother John is doing very well, he owns a shop and is active in politics, however had lost his faith and no longer believes in the church. Kumalo’s son Absalom takes the longest to find and when he is finally found it is in a prison cell awaiting trial for the murder of a white man, which is the biggest crime a black man could commit. These trials wear on Kumalo and he almost loses his faith, but he rises up to the task set to him for bringing the tribe back together and renewing the land to support the tribe. This is a wonderful book about a very hard time in history, but it’s a little too coincidental for me. It seems too convenient that Absalom shot the son of the white man who lived by Kumalo’s village, who then began to reach out into the community he had previously ignored. The end feels a little too neat as well. ‘oh there’s so much death and suffering, but we’re all going to be fine!’ It just doesn’t work for me, but I get where Paton was going with it. He wanted an optimistic end to his book to show the world that this could end peacefully, maybe not quickly, but surely the next generations will stop it. However, apartheid didn’t end till the late 90s, so now so many years later it feels like Paton was too optimistic with his ending. Luckily not too much was taken away from the book, just a dramatic tone shift at the end, all in all a classic that should be read.
Refreshingly short-winded. Too often classics go on and on about trivial things which turn delightful 200 page novels into boring 500 pages novels; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an exception being only 75 pages in length; it gets right to the point. It is written through the viewpoint of Mr. Utterson, a friend of Dr. Jekyll who becomes very concerned by his friend’s recent behavior, however at the end of the novel, all is revealed by a letter written by Dr. Jekyll to be opened at his death or disappearance. The novel explores the differences between good and evil and the consequences of both repressing and indulging in them. Dr. Jekyll is tired of repressing his unflattering urges to fit what society finds acceptable, but he cannot dream of giving up the respect and esteem he has earned. So he begins to explore creating a new personality that he can vicariously live though. He concocts a drug and takes it; creating a person that he names Edward Hyde. Mr. Hyde is smaller, thinner, and younger than Dr Jekyll. He is completely comprised of all of the evil lurking in Dr. Jekyll, which up until now he has been repressing, so Mr. Hyde is younger and smaller simply because the emotions and urges he is comprised of were never able to mature. For a while things go according to plan, switching between personalities is easy and done when meant to be done. However, soon the switch happens when the drug had not been taken and the drug needs to be taken to turn into Dr. Jekyll instead of to turn into Mr. Hyde. Evil begins to take over Dr. Jekyll as he fights for his personality and soul. He becomes Mr. Hyde because he allowed his desire to act on his evil impulses overcome him and control him like an addict; and like an addict he loses all control of where his life takes him. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde die when Mr. Utterson is on the cusp of discovering the truth. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic tale of good vs evil and has lasted through generations for very obvious reasons. It is simple and it is right.