A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes Book 1) - Kindle edition by Doyle,  Arthur Conan, Penzler, Otto. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @  Amazon.com.

“A Study in Scarlet” has a sophisticated narrative technique that is perfect. From the perspective of narrative layout, this novella is divided into two parts, with seven chapters in each part. The narrative sequence of the first part is as follows: Watson gets acquainted with Holmes — the reasoning method of Holmes — the murder happens — the police statement — the suspected murderer appears — the police statement — the murderer is caught. The second part is as follows: looking back to the past (that is, the motive of killing) — Watson supplement — Holmes explains the reasoning process. The whole narrative can be divided into three parts with the occurrence of the murder as the boundary. Before the crime, the first and second chapters are the chapters where the author sets up the characters to appear. Watson first learned about Holmes from a friend. His friend gave a very good summary of Holmes’s character in a few simple words, such as he was a strange man, a very decent man, his studies were messy, he was a little too hard on science, and so on. The role of this friend is to give Watson, and indeed the reader, an initial introduction to Holmes, and when the two meet and decide to share a room, the friend exits and disappears behind the scenes. The task of introducing Holmes to us fell to Watson. The author makes an ingenious shift of perspective, allowing Watson to amplify the magic of Holmes with several small events, such as knowledge table, argument with Holmes and reasoning on the identity of strangers.

In these two chapters, the narrator is not fixed. The narrative perspective constantly switches between Watson, his friend and Holmes, giving us a multi-dimensional understanding of the life situation and personality characteristics of Watson and Holmes. There are five chapters between the murder and the capture of the culprit. From the point of view of the complexity and brilliance of the narrative, this part of the content is undoubtedly the most worth tasting and analyzing. The author changed several narrators to make the plot more intense. When the postman brings a letter with information related to the murder, Holmes reads it and asks Watson to read it to him again. The letter is written by a policeman, Gregson, and read by Watson, who becomes the first narrator. Gregson, on the other hand, is the latent narrator. Then Holmes and Watson come to the scene of the crime. The two policemen again become the main narrators. By his own observations and the information provided by the police, Holmes got a preliminary understanding of the case. Then, the police officer who found the body described the discovery of the body as the main narrator, the police officer Gregson as the main narrator proudly announced his investigation process, Holmes as the main narrator confirmed to everyone that the dead died from taking poison, and caught the murderer. Basically, each chapter has a different narrator who tells the reader about the case from multiple perspectives.

When the police narrated the case as the narrator, Holmes supplemented the details that the police did not find as the second narrator. Such narration made the case complicated and confusing. All the people were in the fog, but Holmes had already reached the conclusion at this time. At this point, the murderer has been arrested, and is caught. This catches all the readers by surprise, for everyone, except Holmes, is in the dark. The criminal is suddenly caught, but the author does not explain to the reader how he killed, why he killed, and how Holmes learned who the criminal was. Normally, this would have been part of the first book, but Conan Doyle took a different tack, going back in time 30 years. The narrative space is transferred from London to the desert of North America. He tells us the motive of the murderer in the objective and calm third person with the content of five chapters. After going back through history, the author adds two more chapters. In the sixth chapter, after the first five chapters have laid the foundation for the motive of the murderer, Watson as the first narrator is actually the criminal Jefferson Hope as the second narrator to describe the criminal process in detail. At the end of chapter 7, when the criminal has died of illness, Holmes tells Watson his reasoning process. At this point, the whole novel really came to an end. Conan Doyle used dozens of narrators in “A Study in Scarlet”. The narrative perspective is constantly shifting from person to person (seemingly arbitrary, but actually carefully arranged by the author).

From the detective to the police, from the police to the criminal, and then to the author of the whole novel Watson. Conan Doyle weaves the whole story with the narrative structure of crime discovery, crime solving, crime story and reasoning process, which integrates love story, crime story, historical story and detective story, expands his creative horizon and greatly enriches the artistic charm of detective novel. From the irony and ridicule in the novel, we can also feel the skillful use of the narrative discourse, so that the listener can indirectly feel the thorns in the words through the derivation of the meaning. Such sarcasm actually attacks the face of the other party through narration, and it also plays an auxiliary role in the construction of the character image. It is in this way that the author gives us a description of a sharp, distinctive character of the detective image. Through the construction, metaphor and transformation of the narrative discourse, the author employs a lot of ink to render the characters of the three detectives, with the purpose of describing the incompetence and vulgarity of the official detective as a contrast to the wisdom and courage of the private detective. Moreover, the poor performance of these two detectives undoubtedly enhances the readability and entertainment of the novel, which enables the readers to enjoy the art of murder and achieve the artistic effect of relaxation after tension.

Broken Hearted

Broken Hearted

T’was impeccable, yet warped,

Repetitive, yet newfangled regularly.

Memories’ sadness is in presence,

Though, only evoked when the spirit wishes.

‘Tis a fight,

Where “moving on” is defined often,

“Attachment” is, too.

Seated alone, pondering,

How can this be overcome?

Knowledge from the wise is even proven insufficient.

Man’s best companion can’t even seek a smile,

Nor can nature’s sweetest creations.

How can this be overcome?

They say denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then acceptance,

None apply.
This feeling is unutterable,

One I swear is mine and mine only.

How can this be overcome?

Like a Satan in one’s path,

Only the stupid’s willpower could see hope.

Where the only solution is to advance,

Or seize agonizing consequences.

Rifle in hand,

Willpower in the other.

Ambition, clout, and courage tattooed on one’s shoulder,

The great battle begins.

Pushing away thoughts,

Urges set aside.

No peeking,

No asking,

No quitting.

It’s done!

Finally, ready to move on,

Acceptance becomes clear.

Pride falls,

Ache does, too.

I’ve done it,

Finally, moved on.

-Izzy G., 8th Grade


Film Review: A Room with a View

In the England of Victorian times, the upper class teenager Lucy and her cousin Charlotte go to Italian Florence to go vacationing together, encounter English youth George and his father living together in a hotel. Lucy was so upset that she couldn’t see the view from her room that George’s father gave up his room to Lucy. Lucy and George are falling in love. But George, who came from a laboring family, was a straightforward man, and his manners did not fit in with the high-class bureaucracy to which Lucy was accustomed. Inhibited Charlotte was also very uncomfortable with George. On one occasion, George could not help kissing Lucy, which was considered deviant behavior in Britain in the last century. Lucy thinks George’s behavior is not proper and returns to England without him.

After returning home, Lucy is engaged to Vyse, a musician. Vyse is empty on the inside and obsessed with external etiquette. Lucy, however, felt in him the hypocrisy of the pomp and ceremony which might have been just what Lucy’s family wanted, and began to miss George’s little brash, unceremonious, but youthful passion. When George returns to England, the two meet again. But Lucy is still stuck in a hypocritical and a primly way of telling whether she accepts George’s love or not. George had no choice but to go away sadly. After several twists and turns, Lucy’s cousin Charlotte saw that George was a little bold, but he really loved Lucy, so she secretly arranged George’s father to inspire Lucy, so that Lucy finally abandoned the shackles of etiquette, to find her beloved man.

In the movie A Room with A View, the control and oppression of men and the impulse to pursue happiness and love make Lucy finally begins to awaken her self-consciousness. As a woman living in a traditional male-dominated society in Britain, it is impossible to say that her ideas have not been affected by the real society at all. Fierce arguments inevitably followed her life. But, remarkably, Lucy was not assimilated into the way that her mother and Miss Bartley had been. As described later in the film, when she played the piano, she entered the real world. In that world, she was her own master, she was responsible for her actions, she didn’t have to depend on men to live, and she did the unusual things she wanted to do. A Room with A View belongs to the so-called literary heritage genre, which refers to the period blockbusters that were popular in Europe and the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.

These films are usually adapted from famous literary works, and tend to be classical in aesthetics. They are usually performed by numerous international movie stars, and have high artistic value. At the same time, this kind of films prefers the long town head and depth of field shots, the film is often interspersed with beautiful symphony and elegant natural and cultural scenery. The film gives priority to with downy tonal, dim yellow, sky blue, pure white, light gray foil give a warm, detailed atmosphere, providing a kind of proper ground color for rendering a wonderful cherishing story. The audience unconsciously relaxes and revels in the delicate and elegant rococo environment. At the same time, the soft and fresh colors echo the theme of love in the film.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire is set two years after the end of World War II in New Orleans. The play follows the lives of two differentiating sisters: Stella Kowalski and Blanche Dubois. 

Stella chose to leave their home in Belle Reves to marry Stanley Kowalski and explore the reality of the world. Meanwhile, Blanche held on to the fake riches and luxury of Belle Reves until all her loved ones died. 

Blanche brings the daydreams and illusions of her Southern Belle persona to visit her sister. While she lives in the cramped flat with Stella and Stanley, Blanche builds a fake personality to charm everyone and hide her dark past. Eventually, Stanley reveals Blanche’s secrets to Stella and uncovers what truly drove her to insanity – desire.

 Thus, the play focuses on the theme of illusion versus reality. Williams shows the audience of the terrible consequences that come from not owning up to your own actions. He emphasizes the ideal “Romantic” era in contrast to the cruel reality of World War II’s effect. 

The play’s symbols, irony, and allusions tie in beautifully in order to make the reader understand the underlying tragedy. However, this classic book is recommended for analytical individuals or for those who want to reach out of their comfort zone. I loved reading this dramatic literature as I am sure others would too.

-Zohal N. 

Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

A Princess of Mars - Wikipedia

In 1866, at the end of the Civil War, Captain Carter, a cavalry officer in the Southern Army, suddenly flew to Mars from a sacred cave. At that time, Mars was far more scientifically advanced than Earth. But on Mars there are the Tharks, ruled by tall, ugly, four-armed green men, and the kingdom of Helium, ruled by pretty, peace-loving reds, who look a lot like earthlings. All in all, it was a chaotic situation. Carter put his talent to good use, chivalry, with the most beautiful princess Dejah Thoris married. He spent ten years of peace there. This book is set in the vast scenes of Mars and Earth, and has the gripping appeal of a magical adventure novel.

The incomparable interestingness constitutes the archetype of what has been called the cosmic opera in the history of science fiction. John Carter, a veteran U.S. cavalry captain, went after the war to explore for gold in the Arizona mountains with his old friend James Powell, an exploration specialist. John Carter lost his way to save an old friend by attacking him in a ruse, and found himself on Mars after a coma. On the surface of Mars he felt weightless, jumping thirty feet high and a hundred feet away. He had dealt with several peoples and nations on Mars, fought in many battles and wars, and had an affair with Dejah Thoris, the princess of Mars. In order to save the princess who was captured by the alien race, Carter went through hardships and dangers, showing the wisdom and courage of the earth people, finally not only rescued the princess, but also won peace and friendship for the inhabitants of Mars. After marriage he lived happily with the princess for ten years, and while on a mission to open an atmospheric manufacturing factory for the Martians, he passed out from thin air and exhaustion. When he woke up, he found himself lying in the same place he had left the earth ten years before.

Authors We Love: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens - Wikipedia

Dickens lived and wrote in the early years of the Victorian Era in the mid-19th century. Dickens’ activities and creations throughout his life kept pace with the trend of the times. He exposed the hypocrisy, greed, baseness and cruelty of the upper class and the bourgeoisie in a realistic way, and showed the miserable situation of the lower class, especially women, children and the elderly, with great indignation and deep sympathy. And with a serious and cautious attitude he describes the awakening of the struggle of the toiling masses. At the same time, he also eulogizes the truth, goodness and beauty in human nature with idealism and romanticism, and looks forward to a more reasonable society and a better life. Dickens embodies the core spirit of the English, a kind of joy and satisfaction from the heart. But there is another British spirit in Dickens, a kind of self-conscious reflection and critical spirit. He spoke for the disadvantaged groups, pursued social justice, explored the core values that can make human beings live in harmony, and expressed the aspirations and dreams of many people with 15 novels and a large number of prose works.

In Dickens’s early works, the reader sometimes finds his affirmation of commercial value. But the later Dickens took a more derogatory attitude towards business. His work also tends to show in a violent way the subversive power of money in an increasingly industrialized society. In the real society, there is a philosophy that ignores human nature everywhere. All spiritual life, including religious life, has hopelessly become a vassal of money and a quantifiable index. With the development of Victorian society, the ethical and moral concepts of the aristocracy were inevitably impacted by the culture of the middle class. The ethics and morals of the middle class have gradually and widely influenced people’s way of life. The development of ethics reflected in the culture is the development of Victorian culture, thus breaking the original monistic cultural values.

Thus, it can be said that Dickens is not only criticizing the inequality of social classes in his novels, but also commenting on the culture of that society, especially its moral concepts. From this we can see his concern and thinking about the future of that society, and also reflect his deep thinking about the human life itself. Dickens’ early novels are grand, popular and fluent, humorous and pungent, and full of sentiment, in which the criticism of the society is generally confined to local institutions and fields. For example, “Oliver Twist”, “Nicholas Nickleby”, “The Old Curiosity Shop“, “The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit”, “Christmas Carol” and so on. After “Dombey and Son”, Dickens’s writing became more mature. “David Copperfield” further explores the struggle of life and is autobiographical. It is a long picture that reflects the middle and lower classes of Britain in the mid-19th century.

“Bleak House”, “Hard Times” and “Little Dorrit” are three politically conscious masterpieces. Dickens’ later works clearly reflect the deepening of the creation of the theme, technical maturity and various aspects of exploration. “Great Expectations” can be seen as a negative of “David Copperfield,” but it is more realistic and apocalyptic in its approach to life, and the author’s early optimism is markedly diminished. The hero Pip is also an orphan. However, he can not withstand the temptation of the environment and loses his original simple nature. After experiencing harsh hardships, he realizes repentance and starts to live again, and the whole novel is more concise in structure. “Our Mutual Friend” is another critical novel that goes deep into the society. The human nature exploration and life philosophy contained in it are also more profound. The symbolism and detective novel techniques used in the novel add more to its artistic charm.

Dickens’ final novel, “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”, is only 23 chapters long, but it is also exquisitely written, scrupulously conceived, and seductive with suspense and mystery. He describes a large number of people in the middle and lower classes, which is unprecedented in literature. With his high artistic generalization, vivid detail description, witty humor and meticulous analysis, he created many unforgettable images that truly reflected the social face of Britain in the early 19th century, which had great appeal and cognitive value, and formed his unique style. He reflects the breadth and variety of life, the depth and power of it. Instead of preaching or conceptualizing his tendencies, he tends to inspire his readers’ indignation, hatred, sympathy and love with vivid artistic images. Most of his characters have distinct personalities. He is good at using artistic exaggeration to highlight some features of the characters and reveal their inner life and mental outlook with their customary movements, gestures and words.

Dickens’ works have a strong romantic atmosphere, and the things he describes seem to have some kind of spirituality that can match the feelings and temperament of the characters, which enhances the appeal of the works.

The End of Forever by Lurlene McDaniel

This book is basically about how Erin, the older sister has to cope with Amy, her beloved younger sister’s death. The thing happened when after a very successful show at the theatre, there was a party and Amy offered to buy some food and drinks for the party when there was an accident and after a lot of efforts from the family, they eventually lost her. But another even bigger problem was the question if their family chooses to donate her organs to the hospital where it can be used on other patients who need it.

Facing this challenge, Erin strong opposed it because she wanted to keep a complete body, but her parents thought it wise to donate it after all since Amy was already dead and it’s better than her organs can help somebody. In my opinion, it’s very hard to imagine how Erin finally came to the conclusion that she would agree with this proposition. Imagine, if it’s my own sister I would never let anybody extract her organs and give it to somebody I don’t know.

Through this story, I saw a family getting together and facing this grieving incident at the same time. It is a very healing novel to read for normally a lot of families would give up on their child or blame each other for this accident. However, although everyone is tired, exhausted, or hopeless even, Erin’s parents still chose to tell Erin that it’s not her fault at all, but merely Amy’s carelessness which caused all of this. If every family can just understand the other families more and put themselves in their shoes, wouldn’t a lot of arguments and fights be avoided eventually?

-Coreen C.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

It so often seems that the answer to the question is always clear after something has happened and can never be reversed. No one knows why the answer wasn’t there before, why it’s here now if it’s even there at all. The only thing we could ever know is this: we should have been different Before, in order to prevent a distinguished After.

This idea, this concept that has shadowed us for as long as we have existed, is presented in Mitch Albom’s eerie and reflective masterpiece “For One More Day.”

The story concentrates on Chick Benetto, who’s addictive abuse of alcohol and general absence drives a barrier between himself and his ex-wife and daughter. Chick, believing that his broken life is no longer worth living, attempts to return to his hometown, determined to end his life in the very place it began. Before reaching the town, he experiences a fatal car crash, leaving him unconscious for a short period of time.

In his unconscious state, Chick explores a third place, in which he and his mother (who had passed away eight years previous) are reunited. Chick experiences this phenomenon as one day — a final full day to spend with his mother, fit together the mysterious pieces of his life that have haunted him since childhood, and understand the mistakes he has made in the relationship between himself and his mother.

Through Chick’s retrospective memories of times his mother stood up for him versus the times he didn’t do the same for her, the audience is able to make a compelling realization: the immense power that regret can hold over us. The concept is one familiar to us all, one with stable foundations in the evolution of human nature. Through regret, we begin to visualize the border between Before and After.

In the miraculous account illustrated in For One More Day, the readers encounter the pure, everlasting enigma that is a mother’s love. Alongside the idea of love’s promise of forever, the novel, while exceptionally sad, sends a message of hope to the readers: hope for forgiveness, hope for mending the mistakes we never truly meant to make, hope for new beginnings. And perhaps the best new beginning to offer is to pick up For One More Day and marvel at Albom’s literary craftsmanship.

—Keira D.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. OIt can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Despite its length, this novel is certainly one of the masterpieces still in the history of American literature. What I really admire and value the most in this book is the friendship between Lennie and George. I’m sure there is a bond between them which could have lasted forever if it wasn’t for Lennie’s mistake in the end and also it is a relationship which perhaps transcends those these two main characters have developed with their parents even.

From what I know, Lennie is a very physically robust but mentally weak character. He does not recognize his strength and only wields it when George tells him to; he even seems to be afraid of his surprising strength a little. George on the other hand, although always blames and reproaches Lennie for what he does, at important times he is the one who saves Lennie. He seems to be a bit of nonchalant, but when Lennie offers to leave him, I can sense a trail of yearning and guilt in George when he pleaded Lennie not to do so and that he is sorry.

Lastly, I think the last scene where George and Lennie retrospect about their dream of tending rabbits on a farm and how George shot Lennie was very memorable and unforgettable. In some way, I think Lennie knows that George is not here to merely just talk with him, he knew that he has to die in order to save himself and George. Therefore, he pretends to not know and lets him do that. So in other words, Lennie is not simply imbecile, he just lacks the ability to judge things properly and talks more clearly. His reliance upon George ties them together but also, at last, kills him.

-Coreen C. 

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.