Independent Novel Study: Response #1

Gustad Noble didn’t impress me when he lashed out at his son, Sohrab, for refusing to study at IIT, Gustad’s choice for his eldest son’s higher education. Despite Sohrab telling his father, “IIT does not interest me. It was never my idea, you made all the plans,” Gustad is unwilling to listen to his son(65).  This shows Gustad’s stubbornness and his “father knows best” attitude, but also shows his weaknesses, such as his quick temper. His fear of failure from his father’s bookstore going bankrupt has led him to be overprotective, as he fears his son throwing away his chances of success. Consequently, he wants his son to be successful but finds an external conflict with his son when they argue over Sohrab’s future. There also seems to be an internal conflict. Despite greatly valuing his friendship with Jimmy, Gustad explodes in infuriation when Sohrab brings up the topic of friends, even telling Sohrab that he “must be blind if [he] cannot see [Gustad’s] example and learn from it”(66). This shows how Gustad is constantly clashing with his emotions from Jimmy’s unannounced departure. Gustad’s development so far is exceptionally realistic,  not being drastic while also showing significant changes in his character, such as when he decides to pick up a parcel for Jimmy despite his feelings of betrayal. We should emulate some of Gustad’s traits, such as his diligence, devotion to his children, and his value of friendship, but his quick temper and his conservative views towards his children and wife shouldn’t be followed, as many of them clash with the morals and norms of today. Personally, I can relate to Gustad’s feeling of betrayal, as when I was in elementary, a friend of mine who was moving away made a promise to keep in contact. I eagerly waited for his response, but it never came and realization struck me that my “friend” was never going to contact me back. Personally, I would handle Gustad’s problems differently, as Gustad’s methods tend to ignore the wants of other people, while I try to understand others’ thoughts before enforcing my own.

“Emil” Blog Response

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t” (William Sanford Nye, 2017). We can see this in Stuart McLean’s Emil, where Morley, a privileged woman, learns from Emil, a homeless man, that assumptions can strongly influence the way we perceive people and prevent us from seeing the real person. One scene that corroborates this statement is when Emil “[gives] [money] to his regulars – people who gave him money,” after winning the lottery (118). This is the antithesis of what others, such as Dave, thought Emil would do if he ever got money. Previously in the story, Dave states that “if [Emil] gets money (..) he [would] buy cigarettes and lottery tickets” (114). When Emil hands out money to the people who helped him out, he contradicts what Dave thinks, showing that Dave’s assumptions of Emil prevented him from seeing Emil’s real self. Contrary to what most people think, Emil isn’t lazy, value-less and willing to easily live off other people’s donations. He tries to do what he thinks is right or tries to live according to his morals and values, which include giving back to others. Additionally, Morley response to Emil digging up her garden in the early morning sheds light on how throwing away assumptions can allow us to see people as they truly are. When Morley confronts Emil, she throws away all assumptions and genuinely asks him if he has a garden and whether he can show it to her. Her remarks show Emil “that she could see him – the real person” (113). Morley could have easily labeled Emil as a thief, a crook, or someone who the authorities needed to take away, but unlike Dave, she threw away her assumptions and tried to see Emil for who he truly was. By throwing away her assumptions and not letting others’ perceptions of Emil influence her, Morley saw another side of Emil; a hard-working person who was simply trying to share the beauty of her garden with everyone in the community, just in the only way he knew how to. Morley’s lesson shows us that sometimes we need to take a step back and throw away our assumptions, as they may be preventing us from seeing the real picture.

Theory Wars: Final Response

When viewing George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope, the gender lens is the most important lens for a comprehensive understanding of the film because of the portrayal of many gender norms, values, and stereotypes, especially those of women. This is continuously shown throughout the plot, such as when Princess Leia is captured and has to beg the male hero to save her. From this, we can see the film enforcing gender stereotypes, such as women being submissive and helpless, on its female characters. Taking this new lens allowed me to see many things that I didn’t notice before. One significant observation was the extremely disproportionate female to male character ratio. Only two females, both supporting characters, were portrayed in the entirety of the movie, while a myriad of men made up the rest of the cast. Additionally, stereotypes about women were prevalent in this movie. While one could say that Princess Leia was breaking cultural norms by being rebellious and colloquially said, “bad”, she was still portrayed as submissive and helpless multiple times in the movie, begging Obi-Wan, a male, to help her, even calling him her “last hope”. Other characters only further reinforce this stereotype through their remarks about Leia, which are exclusively restricted to remarks about her appearance. I also noticed that female to female conversations were non-existent in this movie. While men talked to other men throughout the movie, women always conversed with men. To top it off, the women usually spoke only after the man had spoken and any unasked remarks were deemed to be annoying and clueless, such as when Princess Leia told Han of her plan but was only given a condescending response. All of this corroborates my theory that the film is a representation of women in 1977. While women were granted suffrage and the same legal rights as men like Princess Leia who entered politics despite being female, they were still constrained by social norms and values. As we saw in the movie, Leia’s main role in the movie was to be the “Princess Peach”, the woman who gets into trouble and has to wait for the male heroes, Obi-Wan and Luke in this case, to save the day. This relates to the women of 1977 who were still encouraged by social norms and values to be helpless and live up to their stereotype, which prioritizes what women look like externally. We can see this when Luke’s first reaction to seeing Princess Leia is to comment on how she is “a beautiful woman”. Additionally, people in positions of power are all men. This might serve as a representation of the power balance in 1977. Although there were many eminent women, people in positions of power, such as CEOS and presidents were predominantly men. Interestingly enough, one character seems to defy these cultural norms and values. Princess Leia, the renegade of social norms, is portrayed in a way that is progressive and defies some women stereotypes. We have to acknowledge that she isn’t a complete rebel of norms and values; she does have times where she fits the “Princess Peach” stereotype and succumbs to society’s values of a submissive and helpless woman. However, she is shown to be a rule-breaker with her shooting a trooper and stubbornly lying to the governor, traits that contradict the stereotype. Additionally, there are times, such as when Han, Luke, and Leia face a deluge of Stormtroopers that she is shown to be assertive and in control, even ordering Han around, much to his displeasure. Both the idea of women being restrained by 1977’s societal values and norms and the idea of a progressive start serve as a representation of women in 1977. To conclude, when watching a film through the gender lens, it’s important to consider how the different genders are portrayed and what roles they play in the film so that we can get a better understanding of gender roles and values from the film’s time period.