Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 – Day 5: Top Five Most Favorite Books

And here we are…..on the last day of 2013, and this would also be the last post of Book Kaleidoscope 2013, as well as my last post of year 2013. It has been another great year in term of reading, I have read 54 books; 34 of them are classics (63% of my reading is of classics…yay to me! :D). Most of the books are great, I have conquered (at last) two chunkster I’ve been dreading all these few years: War and Peace and Moby Dick, but both are proved to be great books. It’s quite difficult to pick only 5 from these tough candidates, but at last I came to this…

5. Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw

I am very grateful that I decided to read one of Shaw’s plays: Saint Joan. It is so inspiring and enjoyable. Joan’s character is lovable; she is far away from your image of a saint (well, at least mine :D). She is naïve, witty, enthusiastic, and very brave. Her lines are very deep, inspiring and touching. The other characters are interesting too. In fact, this is the best play I read this year, and becomes my favorite after Julius Caesar.

4. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield is the most intense novel of Charles Dickens I have ever read so far, and certainly becomes my new favorite. Dickens wrote it from the heart, he seems to pour down his childhood burden onto this book. I could sympathize with David so much, it feels like reading Dickens’ diary. It is well written too, with not too much blabbing like in Little Dorrit, for instance. I would love to reread it again some other time….

3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I have a feeling I could never completely ‘move-on’ from The Great Gatsby. This is the second time I read it, and it still amazed me. I love especially Fitzgerald’s beautiful narration and his metaphors (a lot of it!). I think this novel would never bore me, and I will love to read it every two years or so… :)

2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

How can we not love Moby Dick? It is epic, adventurous, and makes you think at the same time. The Shakespearanish style Melville sometimes used makes it more lively and colorful; and when Moby Dick finally appeared, it is epic and unforgettable. Captain Ahab’s character only adds the uniqueness of this novel.

1. La Bete Humaine by Emile Zola

If you are a follower of my blog, or have been reading my posts often, you would not surprise to learn what novel—or rather from which author—would claim the first place in my bookish year of 2013 (by the way, his novel was also my favorite for 2012!). He is, of course, Émile Zola. And La Bete Humaine is another intense and sharp novel from Zola. It speaks a lot about human nature, and how modernization is like two sides of a coin; it brings prosperity on one side, but also moral corruption on the other. So, it’s not because Zola is my favorite author, but because this book is really awesome, that I awarded La Bete Humaine as…..

What are yours? Share in the linky below!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 – Day 4: Top Five Underappreciated Secondary Characters

Day 4 of Book Kaleidoscope is the freebie day, you can create whatever top five bookish criteria you want to feature. For me, it’s the underappreciated secondary characters. After having praising five ‘shinning’ male (or female) characters in Top Five Book Boy/Girl Friends, now it is fair to make room too for secondary characters to shine a bit in Book Kaleidoscope. They are not what the books are about, but without them, perhaps our heroes/heroines won’t be what they were. Here are my picks:

5. Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway (2013)

I imagine Nick Carraway to be an innocent man who has been molded by his family to be a straightforward man with good moral. In the middle of the jazz age, while people seek only their own pleasure, Nick looks queer in his own principle. And that is why he is a perfect choice to narrate The Great Gatsby, to point out the irony between the good and the bad. Apart from the enigmatic Jay Gatsby, Nick should be appreciated more as he is the only one who could see what’s good in Gatsby.

4. Starbuck in Moby Dick

Leo Genn as Starbuck (1956)

It is quite funny that two of Moby Dick’s central characters are either the antagonist or only the silent narrator. So, if I must pick a favorite, it would be the secondary character, Starbuck, the only man in this novel who has good conscience. Starbuck is the chief mate, not distinguished in any sort, but he consistently keeps his conscience and principle throughout the story. Starbuck is the most intelligent man on board, apart from Captain Ahab. I admire him because he is very brave; has the courage to reprimand his captain because the captain would do something evil, even though he is alone (the others, either taking side of Ahab or don’t take any side). He is my hero from this novel!

3. Pierre Sandoz in The Masterpiece

This is Zola, and I always imagine Sandoz
as Zola himself

Although The Masterpiece is regarded as Émile Zola’s most autobiographical novel, it is not in the main character (Claude) that Zola’s personalities appear; it is in the secondary character, Pierre Sandoz, Claude’s best friend. Sandoz is portrayed as an amiable and enthusiast young man, loves socializing and is always attentive to his friends. He loves to have small dinner party at his house every week, and the habit continues after he is married. To his friends, Sandoz is like a father or big brother who is always ready to protect them from world’s cruelty. It’s impossible to not feeling warm every time you read about Sandoz, because that’s how he is. I’m just wondering, whether Zola is really like a guy like that, if yes, I would love him ever more!

2. Robin Ellacott in The Cuckoo’s Calling

Robin is Cormoran Strike’s secretary. She is an attractive young woman, and is interested in detective and investigation. Robin is proved to be very efficient, sharp, and has a natural talent of a detective. She is a woman with principle and dignity; and although she is an employee, she let her boos know that she deserves to be respected properly. She does not like gossips or sneaking around his boss’ privacy, and although her boss is not treating her very well, she keeps defending him, as a secretary should do to her boss and her institution. I like Robin a lot, and really want to be like her. Talking about Robin, doesn’t she remind you of someone familiar….uhm…Hermione Granger, perhaps? So, do you think Emma Watson would be a good choice to play Robin Ellacott? :)

Emma Watson as Robin Ellacott, will you agree?

1. Tommy Traddles in David Copperfield

While David Copperfield—whose life is told in this book—has no distinguished personalities, I like Tommy (Thomas) Traddles much better than David. Traddles is good-humoured, lively person; he is persevere against hardship, and always knows what he is doing. Traddles is also a good friend, faithful, and always helpful towards others. In short, he is a guy who always makes our days fun. But more than that, Traddles can become serious and responsible while attaining some important matters. He helps his friends in needs silently and joyfully. Therefore I crowned him as…

What are you featuring today in Book Kaleidoscope? Or do you have any favorite unappreciated secondary character too? Share it in the linky below!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Upcoming Readatons

Next week I am going to have two readathons. The first one is what I call My Personal Readathon, something that I'll be doing with a few of blogger friends (you are welcomed to join, if you like). It is a 36 hours readathon, starting at 8 am (GMT+7) Monday morning (30th December 2013) and ends at 8 pm Tuesday night (31st Desember 2013). The detailed info is here.

I have prepared these two books for 36 hours:

Yes, I'm going to have light reading to close this year. And if I have finished them before the readathon ends, I might add another light book, The Call of the Wild, for instance...


After closing 2013 with a few light readings, I would be ready to welcome 2014 with another readathon, The 2nd Annual Classics Club Readathon. It will be held on January 4th, 2014, for 24 hours. 

I have been eagerly to start the new year with my history book:

What do you plan for the turning of the year's read? Would you join any of the readathon? ;)

Notes From Underground

Although it is a very short book, Notes From Underground is far from light reading. I have started it last year, but had to stop at first chapter as I did not get what it is about. This year my friend enticed me to read it together, as it should be a good book. I took her challenge, and braced myself to read from the beginning, to get through the point where I have stuck last year, and to keep on reading—whether I understand it or not—as I believe I will get on it eventually after some chapters. Although I could not say I like it after finishing the book, I still feel grateful that I have at least tried it. It is my first encounter with Dostoyevsky anyway, and although I didn’t enjoy Notes From Underground, I like the way he writes, and would certainly read his other novels (I have Crime and Punishment in my TBR pile already).

Notes From Underground is told from first person point of view, and written as a kind of diary of the male narrator (I will call him ‘the narrator’). The narrator is a man of forties, lives in a wretched house which he calls the underground. He is a spiteful man, and from the beginning he has been bursting spiteful expressions about everything. He does not hate someone or something in particular, but he hates the world he is living. Odd as it was, I kept reading, and only after reaching the middle part, that I began to have a clearer image about this narrator.

He feels different from others because he is more intelligent and more superior to others. I think it is because he put himself above others, that others see him strange, anti social, and expel him for good. He despises the way they live, yet he yearns to be part of them; there is a paradox and self-denying here! The narrator often pictures it as tooth-ache; you hate the pain, yet you enjoy people’s attention; you want the ache stop, yet you regret it when it stops because you’ll lose people’s attention when you are recovered.

At first I thought this book is about a political criticism, but apparently it is more psychological (and philosophical?). I think it criticizes how men always want to be independent—which he calls freedom—while in reality, he also likes to be controlled; to be in orderliness. They despise law, but at certain point they demand to be regulated by it. Men are too tied to rules and are afraid to be free. They see people who don’t live by the same rule as weird. This is what the narrator feels; just because he doesn’t agree with others’ way of life, they see him as a fly. He longs to be free but couldn’t, and that makes him a despiteful man.

The narrator knows he is at an equal level with his friends but he always resentfully surrenders to their power. He does once an experiment by not yielding when passing a gentleman, shoulder to shoulder on the street; it is very difficult for him because in the end he always involuntarily yields. The narrator also talks much about consciousness. Here are several interesting quotes that makes you think more about human and society.

"To be too conscious is an illness.

Man has preferred to act as he chose and not in the least as his reason and advantage dictated.

What man wants is simply independent choice, whatever that independence may cost and wherever it may lead.”

Man lives to make roads and to create, but why has he such a passionate love for destruction and chaos also?

He loves the process of attaining, but does not quite like to have attained.”

Through civilization mankind becomes softer.” ~ Buckle

You boast of consciousness, but you are not sure of your ground, for though your mind works, yet your heart is darkened and corrupt, and you cannot have a full, genuine consciousness without a pure heart.”

Can you guess what all these are about? I have a vague idea, but still could not grab the whole idea. I might not reread this book, but I would certainly love to read more from Dostoyevsky.

Three stars for Notes From Underground.


*I read ebook from Feedbooks dot com*

*This book is counted as:*

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 – Day 3: Top Five Best Book Covers

Cover must have been one of the most important aspects of a book, and that’s why we are having this criteria for Book Kaleidoscope Day 3. Honestly, I didn’t read many books with very artistic cover this year, and I read a lot of ebooks too. But five best cover must I pick, so here they are….

5. La Bete Humaine by Emile Zola

I don’t know why, I just love this cover from the moment I first saw it. I thought at that time, that this is a man who is reflecting his evil doing—maybe having a bit moral-struggling—and considering whether he must jump from the bridge or not. Then after I read the book, I thought, perhaps he is crying over his ‘beast-within’ which he could not control. Overall, I love the perfect angle, and the clean whitish style of Oxford Classics books.

4. The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King

Since I love red, this cover has interested me already since I saw the book for the first time. Mizan publishing, who translated the Mary Russell series into Bahasa Indonesia, has done a good job in combining the early 20th century theme (from the wooden door and the building background) and the feminine touch (the color red and the tumbling honey pot) brought by Mary Russell into Holmes’ masculine aspects. I could sense mystery and sweetness at the same time.

3. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

This is the Indonesian-translated edition from Serambi publishing. I love the art in this cover, it’s not only artistic but also represents the book theme. The illustrator could grasp the old man’s hardship into this illustration, just look at his face, and you could tell how he has been living a very hard life. And although he could finally win the big marlin fish, it’s not the end of his hardship; it’s only another drama in the sea. And so, the old man would through that kind of life again and again, maybe to his last day, but he keeps strive on.

2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Lately I am fond of Penguin English Library edition, the colorful cover and the tiled icons which always represent the book main theme. In Moby Dick’s, the icons reflect perfectly its theme—or one of its main themes—the cruel means of killing whales which is a noble creature. It is represented in the whales and the sharp-pointed harpoons. And there are white whales too (like Moby Dick) which adding the air of tragedy (adding the pureness to the existing nobleness of whales). As in Moby Dick Melville put a touch of divinity, killing a white whale in barbarian manner like this in the cover can be regarded as how savage it is when men want to ‘kill’ God.

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

From so many editions of The Great Gatsby, this particular one if my favorite. It’s a hardback edition from Penguin Classics (now becomes one my most precious treasure…). I love its classics motive (the semi circles look like waves, don’t you think?) and the color. The beige background and the bronze motive (it is so ‘Gatsby’, right?) are very elegant, just reflecting the atmosphere Gatsby wanted to create to amuse Daisy: solid and elegant. And that’s why it becomes my choice of…..

What are your favorite covers? Share with us in the linky below.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 – Day 2: Top Five Most Memorable Quotes

While the first category (Top Five Book Boy Friends) is relatively easy, picking memorable quotes turned out to be a harder one. And books I have read this year—although not too many—contains many good quotes. These five I have picked are probably not the best of all, but they are five quotes that first popped in my head, and thus, being the most memorable ones for me. Here they are:

5. The Confession by John Grisham

The quote is from Keith Schroeder, a reverend who is accidentally involved in a death penalty case. He criticizes the death penalty as it is actually a systematic killing empowered by law. I agree!

4. The Portrait of A Lady by Henry James

It might not be a very inspiring line from Ralph Touchett; and you must read the book to know the emotional touch of what Ralph says to Isabel. It’s an ordinary line, but it really reminds me of one particular event—the most emotional one—that made me cry when reading this book. I cannot reveal more than this without revealing the whole story.

3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Again, this quote might not have any meanings for you, not touching, nor inspiring. It’s Andrew Bolkonski’s line during the war. It’s memorable to me because that quote made me realize the true nature of a war. I have never thought about it before I read War and Peace, and Tolstoy has changed my way of thinking about war after I finished it. This quote extracted what Tolstoy meant to say about war.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

And this is the most memorable wisdom from Professor Albus Dumbledore. I feel that this is one of the big messages Rowling wants to convey by writing Harry Potter (besides about love conquering evil). It talks about the freedom to choose what we would become, it’s a free will, and even God could not control our choices. He only leads us, persuades us to be good, but in the end, it’s our own decision that decide what we become. It’s a simple, yet strong, quote!

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

And the winner is…..of course….this famous ending from The Great Gatsby. I loved it even when I first read it (and didn’t quite understand most of the prose). I loved it more after rereading it (and now understand it quite much). The quote is laden with hidden meanings, but Fitzgerald wrote it beautifully. It’s Nick Carraway’s line talking about how Americans (represented by Gatsby in this story) pursue their dream while still holding the past. One of the most memorable quotes from one of the most memorable book!              

What about you? Share your memorable quotes in the linky below!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Kaleidoscope 2013 - Day 1: Top Five Book Boy Friends

This is the first day of Book Kaleidoscope 2013, the rewinding of bookish aspects of books we have read this year. There are not too many interesting male protagonists to pick (and I only read 53 books, 10 of them are plays), so it’s not so hard a task. Four of the (lucky) five are from classics books, while the other one…well, I just can’t resist to slip this character from a popular book. Here they are, and the actors who best played (or will best play) them:

5. Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby

Jay came as my last choice to complete the five candidates. At first I had a hope in David Copperfield, but at the same time I also felt that he didn’t have a very strong character that distinguished enough. He is good, kind, tender, but…nothing special. While Jay Gatsby—despite of his believing his fake dream—is a strong man, brave, and determined, qualities I always admire on men. I like men who have ambition or dream, and focus his way to pursue it. Gatsby doesn’t lament on his poor condition, he works hard to get out of it. Moreover, he is good towards his father. Although he is now very rich, he never forgets his poor father. Yes, I don’t approve of his way of doing business, but I prefer a brilliant man who makes mistakes than a sentimental man with almost no flaw. *Sorry Copperfield…!*

On second thought, maybe I picked Jay because I just couldn’t resist bringing Leo here… LOL!

Leonardo di Caprio as Jay Gatsby (2013)

4. Cormoran Strike in The Cuckoo’s Calling

In the first half of the book, Cormoran might not emerge as a favorite male character. He is not charming, nor dandy, and his life seems to be a mess. But while the story is developing, so does Cormoran. He might not be in his best of times, but he is certainly a man of principle and good moral, and he always fight for it. I could not reveal his conduct here, else I would accidentally reveal some clue/spoilers! Cormoran is an attentive guy too; while his own life is in trouble, he still pays attention to his secretary. Oh….I must restrain myself from throwing any spoilers, but what I want to say is….despite of one little flaw of his, Cormoran deserves to be one of my favorites. This book isn’t yet made into movie, but some has picked this guy to best play Cormoran. Do you agree…? :D

Tom Hardy as Cormoran Strike??

 3. Ralph Touchett iThe Portrait of A Lady

Ralph might not be the most handsome and charming guy in the world, but he has one of the strongest points I like from a man: he understands women! Ralph is a guy who gives room for women. He doesn’t have the tendency of conquering women; and he believes that women, too, need to have their own freedom; that they need to make decisions by themselves. Moreover, Ralph is not possessive, he loves from afar. He is not demanding, on the contrary he unselfishly gives his best for the woman he loves without her knowing it. That is an act of sacrificing, isn’t it, and can you resist a man who makes such sacrify?

Martin Donovan as Ralph Touchett (1996)

2. Lord Arthur Goring in An Ideal Husband

I doubt it if Lord Goring’s type would be the ideal husband to any women, but his character is indeed interesting. He is easy going, sometimes sarcastic—humorous sarcastic—and intelligent. But deep inside, Arthur Goring is a kind hearted man. He praises the value of love, marriage, friendship, and women’s importance in the society. Goring was also ready to take a big risk when two of his best friends were in a life crisis. In short, he is brave, smart, humorous, and tender-hearted. What else could you expect to be an ideal husband? Handsome and sexy? Ermm….you’ll get them too, if Lord Goring is really like this….

Rupert Everett as Lord Goring (1999)

1. Prince Andrew (Andrei) Bolkonski in War and Peace

I have fallen in love with him from the first moment he was mentioned in the book. He seems to be charming, gallant, and a very talented country man. Perhaps his only flaw is his over-confidence, which makes him sometimes too much proud of himself. *spoiler* I was really glad when he finally recovered from his grief, and his spirit’s rekindled. That is the man I would have dreamed to marry, if I lived in that era. His career in the war made me proud too, as unlike others, Andrew could see the reality of war (and I believe his views are Tolstoy’s). I love him more after he’s repented; for men make mistakes, but the most important thing is whether he would admit it and apologize. Andrew has done it, and so….he becomes my….

Vyacheslav Tikhonov as Andrew Bolkonski (1965-67)

So, who are yours? Share in the linky below!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Song of Solomon: Final Review

Tony Morrison really likes to open a novel in an oddly way; as in Beloved, so is in Song of Solomon. It is opened with a suicide letter from an insurance agent, who announced that he will fly from the hospital top on certain date and hour. ‘Why?’ I instantly asked myself. And my question remained unanswered through almost the whole story. The insurance agent turns out not to be the main character either. He only serves as a symbol. The center of the story is about Macon ‘Milkman’ Dead and his people.

It was on the day of the insurance agent’s suicide, that Milkman was born. He was born in the richest black family in the town; his father was in property business, while his mother was a daughter of a respectable doctor. While he was growing up, little by little the dark secrets of the family were revealed. The ugly truths disturbed Milkman; he felt that he did not have freedom. His father—who wanted to kill him before he was born—now wanted him to help him in business. His mother has used him as a boy to amuse herself. Hagar wanted to have his life because she could not get his love. Even his name he got from someone else’s faults. He felt that everything is a mess, no one lived normally within his family and his people. He was weary of all that and wanted to leave everything behind but had no power to do that as he did not have money.

While Milkman was searching the value of his life, Guitar—his best friend since childhood—was getting weird. He became too serious and was obsessed with racial issues. Milkman found out later that he has joined a society called Seven Days, whose aim was to kill white people as many as they have killed the blacks. Guitar believed that by holding up the population of the whites, they would have less power to oppress the blacks. So, both Milkman and Guitar were finding their own way to escape the crushed world they were now living.

Since Milkman has been living quite comfortably, he did not get as desperate as Guitar. His father asked him to trace the sack of gold of his, which he suspected has been stolen by his sister Pilate. This mission finally led Milkman not to the gold, but to the true history of his ancestors. From a children’s song he learned the story of Solomon, his great grandfather, a great Negro who was praised by his people because he managed to ‘fly’. And so Milkman was inspired by Solomon; if his great grandfather could ‘fly’, so could he.

It was only when I was in the last chapter, that I realized what Morrison has been fussing about the ‘fly’. First the fly of the insurance agent in the opening, then Solomon’s fly. And people here don’t feel it strange that a human can fly; instead, they praised Solomon for succeeding in flying, although by doing that he ought to leave his wife grieving. Milkman too was overjoyed of his great grandfather’s achievement. And so I began to think that the ‘fly’ here might means the efforts to leave their present depressing situation to a brighter future. Morrison encourages us that to keep hoping and thinking positively, that someday you might see the chance to fly away.

This is my second Toni Morrison, and I still enjoyed it. Unlike Beloved that is quite shocking, Song of Solomon feels like reading an adventure novel. The plot flows nicely, although Morrison keeps starting chapters from the middle of an event, and while we are asking what it is all about, she throws the clues here and there, until at one point the whole event is revealed.

Four stars for Song of Solomon, and I think I might read Morrison other novels in the future.


*I read Signet edition*

*This book is counted as:*

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Year in First Lines 2013

I saw this meme in Mabel’s blog, and found it interesting. It is hosted by The Indextrious Reader (although she hasn’t posted it this year yet). The rule is to take the first line of each month's post over the past year and see what it tells you about your blogging year. So here is my 2013 in first lines,

part of A Lady Writing by Jan Vermeer

January: “I don’t know why it takes me so long to read one of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpieces: The Old Man and The Sea.”

February: “Of all Dickens’ novel I haven’t yet read, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is perhaps one I’ve been looking forward the most.”

March: “This is perhaps my third reading of Alexandre Dumas’ first installment of D’Artagnan Romances series: The Three Musketeers."

April: “If there is one thing I like most from La Bête Humaine—besides the story and what laid beneath it, of course—it is the beautiful way Zola wrote the passages about La Lison’s adventures.”

May: “If there are books I would love to read over and over again, The Great Gatsby must be one of them.”

June: “Like Dante--‘midway upon the journey of our life/I found myself within a forest dark…’—I too felt like being plunged into darkness when I decided to read a narrative poem of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, end of last month.”

July: “For more than a week I have been delving into Dante’s Purgatorio, and this particular quote has been captured my mind.”

August: “Apparently, War and Peace still doesn’t stop to amaze me till now.”

September: “There are so many plays I had wanted to read for this last freebie month of Let’s Read Plays; but at the end I picked George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan.”

October: “After reading Hamlet, I can officially announce that tragedy is my most favorite theme when it comes to plays.”

November: “The saddest moment of hosting an event is…. when you have to end it. :(“

December: “As soon as I read the last line, and closed the book for good, I could only think…how emotional David Copperfield is; it’s much more intense than any other books I have read so far by Dickens.”

I am now reading my last classic for 2013, but have already been eager to start 2014! :)

Song of Solomon: The WEM Inquiries

I opt to work only on the second and third level of inquiries for Song of Solomon; which I wrap up in this one post.

Logic-Stage Inquiry

What does Milkman want? What is standing in his way? And what strategy does he pursue in order to overcome this block?

Milkman wants freedom; freedom to lead his own life, not the life the society forces him to take. Even before he was born, it is as if his fate has been scratched into his book of life. After he’s grown up, everyone seems to want his life, own him, need him, and won’t let him alone (his father, his mother, his girlfriend, even Guitar). To overcome the block, Milkman knows he needs to leave his past, stays away from his families and all their histories. So, when his father asks him to find the gold, he leaves eagerly to the South. It’s not merely about the gold—although he believes it is at first—but more about the freedom, to do something his own way, to decide things by himself, to take control of his life.

Beginnings and endings

I believe this is one of Toni Morrison’s strengths: how she arranges her writings in a neat and tidy package. The novel begins with a ‘fly’ and ends also with a ‘fly’. The first fly—the insurance agent’s leap from the hospital roof—feels strange, and I didn’t know what it means until I reach the ending. And only when Milkman leaps towards Guitar, did I realize what all the leaps in this novel meant.

Images and metaphors

Being a magical realism, of course there are a lot of metaphors here. I only discuss one of them: the leap or the flying. People in this book do not think it strange for men to fly. So, it must have represented something real. After finishing the book, I think ‘flying’ here means flying from your helpless situation to a new brighter future. Milkman is so happy when he learns that Solomon—his great grandfather—can fly, and he thinks, if his great grandfather can fly, so can he. I think the flying for black people here represents the escaping from the whites’ domination and injustice.

Rhetoric-Stage Inquiry

Do you sympathize with the characters? Which ones, and why?

I thought more about Milkman and Guitar than the other characters in this novel. They both want to fly from their present conditions, although by leading different paths. They both would have led a great future if they were born as white men. Even Milkman, with a comfortable living, still feels oppressed by the racial colonialism; let alone Guitar, who have neither freedom nor money. His choice is wrong—killing innocent people is wrong—but it’s only to highlight how he feels so helpless; that there is no way out other than savage killings. And they—Milkman and Guitar—must go through that just because they are born black.

What does the setting of the book tell you about the way human beings are shaped?

It tells me that colonialism would only bring moral corruption to the oppressed. When you treat others inhumanly, they would grow savage, because men are created to be free. And after some generations, it would shape their whole race or nation’s mental. It is not that certain race is worse than the others; look at Milkman and Guitar; if they were born white, things would have been different. Milkman would not be that indifferent, while Guitar would perhaps not be a savage killer. They do not want to be that way, but they are forced to survive in the crushed world they live in. And all that is because they are black.

What exactly is the writer telling you?

Morrison wants us to witness the ugly truth of whites’ colonization towards the blacks. She wants to show us what really happened inside the society. Most of them were perhaps just living it bitterly, but some of them show us that they too have dignity; dignity to force them to leave their families, or, like Guitar, to be a savage killer. And all these mess were caused by the racial colonization. They do not want to be that way, but they were helpless. She also tells us not to live submissively under the colonialism, she tells us to fly or leap to a brighter future.

In what sense is the book true?

It’s true that men tend to feel superior against others who are different from them, and I believe racial colonialism is still happening even today.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Song of Solomon – Chapter Summary Part 2

Following Part 1 summary, here are the chapter summary of Song of Solomon Part 2 (the last one).

Chapter 10

Milkman went to the South to get the gold from the cave, but found nothing. He met Circe—the old woman who hid Macon and Pilate after their father’s death—and combining her and Pilate’s stories, he concluded that Pilate must have brought the gold from the cave and hid it somewhere. And now he went on to retrace her tracks.

Chapter 11

He arrived at Shalimar, where his people (the Deads) used to live, while Guitar sent him death-message Seven Days style, though he didn’t believed it at first. He got an unpleasant welcome from the people because he was rich; he survived from a fight with them, and then was invited to join night hunting by other group. During the hunting Guitar has attempted to strangle him but failed; and from the hunting folks he got more information about his grandmother’s family.

Chapter 12

Milkman visited a woman—Susan Byrd—who was the niece of his grandmother, Sing, but here he lost the trace. Guitar met him finally; he wanted to kill him because he thought Milkman secretly shipped the gold to own it himself. From children’s song in a game, Milkman found the missing link about his ancestors’ history.

Chapter 13

Back to Susan Byrd’s, Milkman got the real story about his great grandfather Solomon who ran away with his wife Sing; but he then ‘flew’ away and left his grieved wife lost her mind. Meanwhile Hagar also lost her mind after Milkman left her, and finally died.

Chapter 14

Milkman returned to Susan Byrd’s, and this time had the missing pieces were revealed; how Solomon had twenty one children, and Jake—Milkman’s grandfather—was one of them. A woman named Heddy who had a daughter named Sing took care of Jake after his father left him. Jake then left their hometown in a wagon, after marrying Sing, and directed to the North.

Chapter 15

Excited with his investigation result, Milkman went home, only to learn that Hagar was dead. He told Pilate that the bones in her sack actually belonged to her own father. He then took Pilate to Shalimar, but Guitar followed them and shot Pilate to death. Milkman knew that he’d kill him next, but before that—imitating his grandfather—he leapt towards Guitar.


#OTR: Kitab Yesaya 6: Yesaya Dipanggil Tuhan

Bab ini juga salah satu favoritku, yaitu kisah Nabi Yesaya saat pertama kali dipanggil oleh Allah. Inilah satu-satunya bab yang menampilkan Yesaya sebagai sosok yang ‘manusiawi’. Kalau kita ingin mengenal seperti apa sosok Yesaya yang sesungguhnya, bab inilah yang menggambarkannya dengan tepat. Kita akan merasakan karakternya terpantul: apa adanya, blak-blakan, emosional dan impulsive. Ini terlihat terutama pada bagian monolognya ketika melihat penampakan Tuhan:

“Celakalah aku! Aku binasa!
Sebab aku ini seorang yang najis bibir,
Dan aku tinggal di tengah-tengah bangsa yang najis bibir,
Namun mataku telah melihat Sang Raja,
Yakni Tuhan semesta alam.”

Aku dapat merasakan betapa penampakan kemegahan Tuhan dan para serafimNya telah membuat Yesaya sekaligus: menyadari kedosaannya, dan ketakjubannya karena Tuhan yang begitu mulia sudi menampakinya. Jawabannya yang singkat, tandas, namun penuh keyakinan, tanpa ragu seharusnya menjadi sikap kita semua saat Tuhan memanggil kita:

“Ini aku, utuslah aku!”

Yesaya tak pernah bertanya apa yang harus ia lakukan, atau kemana Tuhan akan mengutusnya. Tidak. Ia mengingatkanku pada Petrus yang impulsive—namun kelak terbukti paling kokoh imannya—yang dari awal langsung meninggalkan perahu dan jalanya dan mengikuti Yesus.

Tugas pertama Tuhan untuk Yesaya sungguh aneh bagi seorang nabi. Yesaya diperintahkan untuk membuat “hati bangsa ini keras” agar Tuhan dapat menimpakan hukumannya. Pun demikian Yesaya, alih-alih bertawar menawar dengan Tuhan seperti Musa atau Abraham, hanya bertanya: “sampai berapa lama, ya Tuhan?”