Marking Period 2 Overview

The following is my argument for an A in my Gifted Honors English Class this marking period, outlining my areas of growth as well as where I fell short:

Before I go into the nitty-gritty details of this marking period, I would like to say I believe I’ve earned an A. While I haven’t met all the goals I set for myself last marking period, I have seen significant growth in both my work and my general work ethic. One of my main concerns was my formal writing. Last marking period, I wanted to improve my organization and crystallize my voice as a writer, because I had issues with getting all my thoughts onto paper in a way that people can actually understand it. I think this was an entire marking-period long process for me that culminated with the final Othello essay.

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First, the freewriting: while sometimes I wouldn’t be able to get thoughts going, repeatedly doing freewriting helped me a lot with quickly getting my thoughts onto paper without having to worry about revising (something that stresses me out, but I’ll get to that later…) and peer editing it. Constantly writing and getting my thoughts out without having to worry about perfect grammar and sentence structure ended up being something that was really helpful for me. I realized that getting my raw, uncensored ideas out there really allowed me to progress later on in the writing process. You can find some examples of this on my blog, especially the post about the Joshua Medcalf podcast (link), or my book review on Fahrenheit 451 (link). While this didn’t have anything to do with Haroun or Othello, I thought it was a good representation of my unique voice as a writer, which is really important to me.

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Next was the Othello Double Entry Journals (link), which I like to call “Freewriting Except I Put More Effort Into My Thoughts.” While I ended up ignoring many of my quote analyses, I definitely had some diamonds in the rough (again, I’ll get to that in a bit…). When I went to write my thinkpiece (link), it was 2am and I was completely taken by surprise when I saw the “late” notification on classroom because I had no idea you assigned it while I was gone– but I the urgency ended up helping me, and it got rid of my chronic laziness in a matter of seconds. I really tried to write my essay through a unique lens (Focus Standard #3) and not the usual “Iago is a vice character and poor Othello was deceived!!” While it definitely wasn’t anywhere near my best work, it helped me more than I can imagine when I went to write my final essay.

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I think the final essay (link) is really where I saw my progress come through. Working in steps (journals>thinkpiece>rough draft) helped me a lot with getting everything done on time, and creating a clear-cut focus (Focus Standard #7). And while it was a little on the long side, I’m proud of this piece as I was able to discuss all of my thoughts in a formal matter and analyze quotes (Focus Standard #1) while still maintaining my voice as a writer, which was really the main goal I set in the very beginning of the year (maybe even since last year). I also actually revised that essay with the help of my peers (Focus Standard #9) which I don’t think I’ve done in months because I hate reading my own work after staying up late to finish it.

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Overall, I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made this marking period in terms of developing my work ethic/organization, and my formal writing. However, I know that, like with all things, there is always room for improvement. Apart from making further improvements in the things I just mentioned, I hope to see growth next marking period in my reading habits (Focus Standard #5) and my voice, especially when analyzing texts and using literary devices (Focus Standard #10).

 

-T.M.

note: I was absent for all of the Othello socratic seminars.

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Fahrenheit 451

“The books are to remind us what asses and fool we are. They’re Caesar’s praetorian guard, whispering as the parade roars down the avenue, “Remember, Caesar, thou art mortal.” Most of us can’t rush around, talking to everyone, know all the cities of the world, we haven’t time, money or that many friends. The things you’re looking for, Montag, are in the world, but the only way the average chap will ever see ninety-nine per cent of them is in a book. Don’t ask for guarantees. And don’t look to be saved in any one thing, person, machine, or library. Do your own bit of saving, and if you drown, at least die knowing you were headed for shore.”

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

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In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury manages to pack in scathing commentaries about the government & censorship, disillusionment, and the role of literature in society in just under 250 pages. It is a dystopian novel set sometime after 1960 and follows the journey of Guy Montag throughout three parts: “The Hearth and the Salamander”, “The Sieve and the Sand”, and “Burning Bright”. Guy is a “fireman” whose job is to burn outlawed books and the homes of people who own them. This is where the title comes from- 451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature needed to burn paper. 

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He initially loves his job and believes he is doing a great favor to society by ridding it of impure literature. However, after developing a friendship with his 17-year-old neighbor Clarisse McClellan, his loyalties begin to change. Clarisse is very critical of her society and believes that life’s greatest pleasures are the simplest ones. Her thoughts are considered quite subversive for the time considering that everyone is over-stimulated and so glued to media and technology you’d think it’s an episode of Black Mirror.

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While these thoughts contribute to kickstarting Montag’s journey of self-discovery, it is really one day he had on the job that changed his life: he is forced to burn an old woman’s house that is filled to the brim with books. Instead of leaving the house, she lights a match and sets herself on fire so she dies together with all her books. This leaves Montag with a question: what do people find in books that’s so valuable that they would rather die than have to suffer through seeing them burn? What’s the point of it all? Just before the fire, Montag manages to steal a book to see for himself. And by the end of the book, his loyalties have done a complete 180 and he has dedicated his life to enriching society with literature.

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The book deals with many themes, especially those of government censorship and ignorance in an over-stimulated world. The themes really come out through the character of Montag and how he goes from a somewhat sadistic, government puppet who burns books to a rebel that is dedicated to building a society full of literature.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys allegorical dystopian books that are very critical of society (if you liked 1984, Handmaid’s Tale, Animal Farm, Hunger Games, etc, you’ll like this). I read it by coincidence after needing to read a book for school and just finding it on my shelf. It was definitely slow and confusing at parts, especially in the very beginning, but if you are able to look past that it becomes enjoyable.

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HBO is also releasing a television series based on Fahrenheit 451 that will come out sometime this spring. You can watch the teaser trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwHA7d1OkAY

Read more reviews here:  

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/23/books/review/fahrenheit-451-read-by-tim-robbins.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/fahrenheit-451-50-years-later-still-sharply-divides-readers-over-ray-bradbury/2011/08/26/gIQAn596fJ_blog.html?utm_term=.4faed0b0354a