McCarthyism in Fahrenheit 451

McCarthyism is when people make false accusations about others. Joseph McCarthy was a United States senator who alleged communists had infiltrated the government in an effort to make the United States follow communism. In an effort to expose the spies, McCarthy searched for Americans who had relations with communism in the past, such as if they attended a rally about communism. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they supported communism or wanted the United States to follow communism. These people were ultimately taken to court and were forced to answer McCarthy’s questions, a violation of the 5th amendment of the United States Constitution. Not only were they then placed in jail, but they were forced to name others who also had followed communism, even if they knew of nobody. In other words, the people were blacklisted. Blacklisting is when people who cannot be trusted are compiled into a list. Some famous people who were blacklisted were Lester Cole and Herbert Biberman. They were both part of the Hollywood Ten, a group of screenwriters who were accused of being communists and refused to testify regarding their involvement. This violated everyone’s rights and censored the people as they could not freely express their opinions on communism. In Fahrenheit 451, the government burns books and limits the amount of knowledge the people gain. The people are restricted in formulating their own opinions and are forced to listen to the government and their views. Bradbury criticizes and shows the consequences McCarthyism has in Fahrenheit 451. 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby

Timeless Qualities The Odyssey Holds

Taking Inspiration from Past Works

Cover image for The Odyssey / Homer ; translated by Robert Fagles ; introduction and notes by Bernard Knox.

Leaders of the world today face many types of challenges, such as the ability to resist temptations, and should take inspiration from past qualities of leaders displayed in literature. In The Odyssey, an epic poem by Homer, Odysseus faces obstacles that test his leadership skills on his journey home to Ithaca following the Trojan War. Odysseus develops as a leader by encountering anxiety-filled challenges that exhibit his leadership skills of self-restraint and knowledge of life lessons, many of which can still be applied to readers’ lives today.

Throughout Odysseus’ journey, he faces a variety of different experiences that develop him as a leader. The lessons he learns while at sea will ultimately aid him in killing the suitors and taking control of his home in Ithaca. These lessons act as inspiration for readers’ everyday lives. An important lesson readers take away when reading The Odyssey is that “the gods don’t hand out all their gifts at once, not build and brains and flowing speech to all” (8:193). Odysseus acknowledges this concept when speaking to Broadsea after being accused of not having “skill in any” sports (8:168). Even though Odysseus’ disk ends up flying “away past all the other marks,” (8:223) he reminds readers that nobody is perfect and everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this aspect, readers also learn that some things are unavoidable, no matter how many hardships they have faced. The main takeaway from these obstacles is to learn from past experiences and apply them to real-life situations. For example, at the beginning of the epic poem, readers learn the outcome of Odysseus’ journey. Even though he fought hard and long to return home to the people of Ithaca, “the recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all” (1:4-9). Odysseus did all he could to return home and save Ithaca, but the people were already doomed from the start, and he could do nothing to help them. As demonstrated, Odysseus develops as a leader by experiencing a variety of difficult situations while embarking on the hero’s journey.  These timeless lessons Odysseus faces apply to social, emotional, and physical problems one might meet today, keeping the continued appeal.

One of Odysseus’ most essential leadership traits is self-restraint, which acted in times of crisis. When talking to Circe about the journey home to Ithaca, Odysseus learns of the Sirens, the “creatures who spellbind any man alive, whoever comes their way” (12:44-47). The Sirens are temptresses, and despite being warned of the deadly consequences, they can still be hard to resist. Even though readers do not necessarily face the same challenges Odysseus did, humans constantly face temptations and have to display self-restraint to resist those and complete the task at hand. Another act of self-restraint demonstrated by Odysseus is when he feels the urge to kill all the suitors at once for being disloyal to Penelope and sleeping with the maids. However, Odysseus resists the urge when “he struck his chest and curbed his fighting heart” (20:20). Seeing Odysseus face and overcome these barriers in his journey inspires readers to face their challenges head-on with self-restraint.

Odysseus and his crew face many challenges beyond their control while voyaging home. He uses his intelligence and leadership to guide his men through tough times and his quality of self-resistance comes in handy when being thrust into temptations. Readers take away powerful lessons and leadership traits that can be applied to certain situations that might be uncomfortable. Although The Odyssey is one of the oldest works of Western literature, it keeps its continued appeal based on timeless qualities, like self-restraint, as it is something all humans strive for.

-Abby V.

The Odyssey by Homer is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Investing Time in Learning a Language is Worth it

12 Compelling Benefits of Learning Foreign Languages
Learning a new language has many benefits.

Studying a world language takes away from a large quantity of a student’s time that could be spent on core subjects, extracurriculars, and sports. The time spent memorizing vocabulary and learning how to communicate in the desired language adds up to be a lot that takes away from a student’s personal, family, and school time. Not to mention, will the hard work students put in even benefit them in their future? However, there are some substantial benefits and advantages that come with learning a world language. Investing time in world languages is a necessary skill for students to learn in school because it will benefit them in future jobs and give them a different way of thinking.

Firstly, taking a world language in school will benefit students in the future, such as when they are applying for a job. Individuals have more opportunities for jobs if they are bilingual. For example, according to the report Not Lost in Translation: The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the US Job Market, “Over the past five years, demand for bilingual workers in the United States more than doubled. In 2010, there were roughly 240,000 job postings aimed at bilingual workers; by 2015, that figure had ballooned to approximately 630,000.” Taking the time to learn a foreign language in school has a great advantage and comes back to benefit the individual later on in life. The number of available jobs for bilingual people is exponentially growing and by the time students have graduated college or high school, there will be even more positions available for them in multiple professions. In addition, according to an infographic of the world’s top languages, three million out of seven million people speak one of ten languages out of 6,900 spoken languages on earth. This illustrates the importance of needing to know multiple world languages so one can communicate on a more extensive scale. By absorbing a language, individuals will get to communicate with others in the language they learned, which also leads to the next advantage of practicing a foreign language in school.

The second benefit of investing time in taking a world language class during school is it will expand one’s thinking skills and will allow one to communicate with others on a much broader scale. Understanding different languages allow for different ways of thinking. In addition to thinking and communicating skills, individuals will also be exposed to many different cultures around the world. According to Liz Reisberg in the article Foreign Language Should be Mandatory, “Studying another language (or two or three) increases the effectiveness of cross-cultural communication, not only in knowing words, but in developing a deeper understanding of language generally and its relationship to culture.” Learning a language not only benefits one in understanding words and how to communicate thoughts, but it also gives one a sense of what life is like in other parts of the world. Knowing different cultures allows for more abstract ways of thinking. Also, according to the Foreign Language Should be Mandatory article, “Without some exposure to a foreign language, how would anyone develop any understanding or insight about the cultural dimension of language?” Learning a language sets one up for success in the future. One should immerse themselves in the culture and language to truly receive all of the benefits.

Studying a world language has many benefits. However one may say that a student has other time priorities and learning a language won’t come back to benefit them later in time. Many often forget the language after coming out of high school and never use it again. As stated by Art Caden in Should Schools Require Foreign Language? Doubtful., “For the average American, studying foreign languages in school is a waste of time given all the other things she could be doing.” However, the author of this claim does not realize the job benefits that come with learning a language. Individuals who are bilingual have a significant advantage over those who are not in obtaining a job. Investing the time now will help students in the future. Additionally, one will not forget the language once graduating high school if they use it nearly every day in the bilingual job they receive. In conclusion, world language education is necessary and should be mandated as it will benefit students’ future jobs and will immerse them in a different way of thinking.

-Abby V.

Romeo and Juliet: What’s in a name?

Romeo and Juliet are madly in love after meeting for just a short time and are willing to give up many valuable things in their life to be with each other, which shows how blinding falling in love can be. The two discuss what is in a name, and agree that what “we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (2:2:46-7). Romeo is a Montague, Juliet is a Capulet, and their two families have been enemies for an extensive time. If Romeo or Juliet gave up their last name, they would still be the same person, just as a rose would be just as pretty and sweet if it had a different name.

The name of an individual does not change who they are as a person. After hearing Juliet speak about her troubles and Romeo’s family name on her balcony, Romeo says, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized” (2:2:54). Romeo is willing to give up his family to be with Juliet, which is surprising considering he just met her and he has been with his family for years. In addition, Romeo completely forgot about Rosaline, whom he professed his love to right up until he met Juliet. Romeo would “deny thy father and refuse thy name” (2:2:36), showing that he would abandon his whole life just to marry Juliet, which is a very bold action. Romeo’s surname not only signifies his relationship with his parents and family, but also their family’s reputation, their inheritance, and personal identities. Romeo and Juliet would both be giving up more than just a name if they decided to marry each other. This decision could affect and impact their future forever.

However, both Romeo and Juliet do not understand the significance of their names as Juliet says, “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to man” (2:2:43-5). Juliet is right that a name is not identified with certain body parts and who one is as a person. However, giving up one’s surname does impact one’s future and relationship with their family, which could, in turn, end up affecting their life together.

-Abby V.

Frankenstein (1931) Movie Review

Movie Title: Frankenstein (1931)

Genre: Science Fiction Horror

My Rating: 2 stars

Summary: Henry Frankenstein, a scientist, creates a creature made out of dead body parts. The creature comes back to haunt Henry and kills and terrorizes people in Henry’s life.

Did I like the movie?: I honestly did not like the movie because it was not very exciting. The film did not make me want to keep watching it because you can predict what is going to happen next, even if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original Frankenstein novel. If there was more action and suspense in the movie, it would be better. At least half of the film is Henry creating the creature. This meant that there wasn’t a lot of action or screen time for the creature which is the most exciting part! Even when the creature did kill someone, it happened very quickly. I feel the directors of the movie should have brought suspense and gotten viewers wondering what would happen next.

Would I recommend this movie?: I would not recommend this movie to people who have read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein. The movie is nothing like the novel. I read the novel first, and then watched the film, and it was a big disappointment. However, if you have not read Mary Shelley’s original novel, Frankenstein, you could watch the movie and think it is really good! However, in my opinion, I think even if you haven’t read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the movie would still be somewhat of a disappointment because the action and suspense were not very exciting.

-Abby V.

Ode to the Beach Poem

Whenever I see you I am comforted,

By your magnificent waves that crash against the sand.

When I see you I think of the magical creatures that are swimming in your oceans,

As well as the trillions of rainbow-colored fish I see each time I snorkel in your waters.

Whenever I step foot onto your sand,

I feel the sand between my toes,

That feels like home.

You provide a sense of comfort whenever I come to you,

As well as everyone else like my family and friends.

You provide a gathering spot where people of all ages can socialize and have fun,

And play in the sun.

Your oceans are sparkling like big diamonds wherever I look at them,

Which provide perfect picture spots.

There is so much I can do when I come to you,

Like play with sand toys in the sand,

Which make great big sandcastles,

That causes friendly competition.

And I can play in the water,

Whenever I go in,

I feel like I am by myself,

And that time has stopped.

I will always love coming to you.

-Abby V.

Out Of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Words. Words are how we express ourselves every day in our life. Could you even imagine not being able to talk and use words? Well, now you don’t have to. Sharon M. Draper takes us through the life of Melody, a 10-year-old girl who can’t talk, with the beautifully written story, Out of my Mind

In this elementary to middle school grade book, Melody is a very smart girl. She can remember anything because after all, she does have a photographic memory. However, this side of Melody will never be shown because she can’t talk. Melody has a condition known as Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a condition where a person can not control their body very well and can not speak. This is why Melody spends most of her life strapped into a pink wheelchair. 

At Melody’s school, Spaulding Street Elementary School, she is in 5th grade but learns the same thing every single year. Imagine how boring that would be considering how smart Melody is. She wants to express herself so badly, but she just can’t. Luckily, Mrs. Valencia (Mrs. V.) knows Melody and understands her well. Mrs. V is Melody’s neighbor. They have known each other since Melody was a newborn. They together go through a journey that helps Melody express herself. The first words Melody expresses to her parents will melt your heart. 

One of the great features Draper included in this book is that you actually feel like you are a part of Melody’s story. You will feel included. You will feel sad and heartbroken when doctors want to send Melody away. You will feel overjoyed and happy when Melody can express herself for the first time. There were really no down-points of this book in my opinion. It truly is a realistic, believable, heartwarming story. If you love realistic fiction books about how people overcome challenges in their life, this book is definitely for you. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars instantly.

If you have read Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and you enjoyed it, I know you will love this book. The books are similar, they are both about how girls overcome life challenges. I have read both books, and I know you will love both of them. If this book is for you, go get and read Out of my Mind! Once you pick it up, you won’t be able to put it down. You will have to keep turning the pages! Now go read!

-Abby V.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: The Importance of Companionship

This post assumes you have already read Of Mice and Men as it contains spoilers.

John Steinbeck’s social realism novella Of Mice and Men portrays the necessity for companionship in one’s life, especially migrant workers during the Great Depression. For instance, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, the men feel anxious about how Candy will react while Candy feels helpless that he has lost his only companion which illustrates the need for friendship between individuals.

Typical migrant workers do not spend the day socializing, but rather traveling from place to place to earn money. They then spend it in foolish ways as they have no future which shows the significant need for fellowship in these particular individuals. Candy for instance had the companionship of his dog but was then pressured into allowing Carlson to kill it as it had no purpose due to old age. While his dog is being shot, Candy is “staring” at the ceiling and then “rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” after the “shot sounded in the distance” (49). Candy feels depressed, hopeless, and wishes to mourn in private. With the death of his dog, he has no family or friends left and it can be difficult not having someone to confide in or provide for. Even the rest of the men in the room are anxious as George “rippled the edge of the deck nervously” (49). This reveals that they feel guilty as they know life can be harsh without a companion. For example, George and Lennie have each other to keep them sane and they have a future together. The “silence” (49) in the room shows the situation is uncomfortable between all of the men. Candy is now all alone and does not have anybody.

Having no one to turn to in life’s hardest moments can have a severe impact on one’s mental health. People’s purpose in life and their health are defined based on the companionships they form.

-Abby V.

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