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Teen Services Librarian at the Mission Viejo Public Library!

Essay: Inevitable Death

In “The Flowers,” by Alice Walker, there are multiple symbols and themes presented throughout the short story. “The Flowers” is a short story about the innocence of a child by the name of Myop. The story starts off with Myop skipping and relaxing under the “warm sun.” Myop starts to explore, the woods behind her house. While she is exploring the woods, Myop picks blue flowers. When Myop circles back to the house, she runs into a strange man. “Myop began to circle back to the house, back to the peacefulness of the morning. It was then she stepped smack into his eyes.” The man is described as “tall”. His head laid beside him. Myop is very curious about the man and she looks around.

After exploring even more, Myop views many limbs and a wild pink rose. The rose is described as wild and Myop adds it to her collection. Finally, Myop laid down her flowers that she picked previously. The short story ends with “the summer is over.” “The Flowers” starts off with a light and happy mood and ends with a dark one.

Throughout “The Flowers,” there are many symbols and themes that are present. The most prominent symbol, would be the flowers. Myop picks a handful amount of blue flowers, the flowers themselves, represent innocence and life. When you pick a flower, it will eventually wither, no matter what, because it has been separated from its roots. Just like life, we all are born one day and we will die one day. There is no exception to this rule.

Another major symbol is the dead man. The corpse relates to the meaning of the flower in a way, how the man was described as tall and big, yet he is dead. The importance of that is, no matter what a person accomplishes, or becomes, will have no bearing on whether or not that person would die. Death is inevitable. “Around an overhanging limb of a great spreading oak clung another piece. Frayed, rotted, bleached, and frazzled–barely there–but spinning restlessly in the breeze.” The limbs show how they were once part of a man, but are now dead, along with the man.

Finally, another major symbol is the summertime. The summertime in the short story shows the innocence of Myop. By the end of the story, the summer ends. The ending of the summertime represents Myop’s transformation into an adult. She lays down the flowers that she had picked up and following that, the end of summer occurs. Which shows that Myop’s days of skipping and picking flowers are done, because she has set down the flowers and faced the hard reality, that life isn’t always fun and games.

-Satej B.

2001: A Space Odyssey Essay

Throughout the movie, many parts led me to believe that David Bowman, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is most relatable to Odysseus, in The Odyssey. David Bowman and Odysseus relate in many ways. First, David Bowman is emotionless and “cold-blooded,” just as Odysseus is throughout The Odyssey. Second, David Bowman could be described as intelligent and witty, as could Odysseus could be described as well throughout the story. Lastly, David Bowman is strong-willed and strong-minded, which Odysseus is in many sections of The Odyssey.

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David Bowman could be characterized as emotionless because in order for him to open the emergency latch door to get himself to safety, he lets go of the body of his fellow scientist, Frank Poole, who he recently just picked up. He does this to ensure that he could live because Hal, the “sixth member” and computer on board, malfunctions and doesn’t let David Bowman in with the body of Frank Poole. The body of Frank Poole was held onto by the claws of the pod that David Bowman was in. Since Hal didn’t let David to enter, he had to enter through the emergency landing pod, which had to be opened by the claws of the pod he was in, so without thinking twice, David Bowman let goes of Frank Poole’s body, into space. This shows how David Bowman is completely emotionless and that relates him to Odysseus because when Odysseus returns to find that his maids have betrayed him, he makes them clean up the blood, and then he decides to kill all of them, which I think is completely unfair because he never took a second thought to consider the circumstances that the maids were in. The maids didn’t really have any choice but to betray him. So, this is a reason why David Bowman and Odysseus relate.

Another reason why David Bowman is like Odysseus is because David is intelligent. Throughout the movie, David Bowman shows his smartness in many ways. First, when Hal restricts David from entering, he thinks of another way, and succeeds. David entered through the emergency landing pod. Since he didn’t have a helmet, he had to improvise. He brilliantly lined the door to the opening of the emergency pod landing, then he jumped out grabbing the latch handle to close it. That plan that he made, in a matter of barely any time, saved his life. This is why I would describe David Bowman as intelligent and smart, which would relate to Odysseus too because in order for Odysseus to defeat the cyclops, he used his skilled mind to blind the cyclops and save his crew, quite simply from dying. Another time in The Odyssey when Odysseus shows how he is smart is when he heeds to Circe’s advice to not eat the cattle on the island of Helios.

odyssey_homerLastly, I would relate David Bowman and Odysseus with the trait of strong-willed. David Bowman, shows how he is strong-minded when he continues to Jupiter even though he lost all of his fellow scientists and cutting out Hal.This, to me, shows that he is persistent and will do anything to succeed in the mission. Whether that’s always good, or not, that’s arguable on the situation at hand, and in the circumstances, I would say that it is a good thing that David Bowman in strong-minded and strong-willed to continue to Jupiter. This attribute relates to Odysseus in many ways. Throughout, The Odyssey there were many times where Odysseus showed his courage and his strong mind. For example, when they passed by the Sirens, he sacrificed himself for the crew, he stayed tied to the mast ended up being the first man to survive the Sirens’ song. Also, he shows he is strong-minded when he is forced to stay for seven years at Kalypso’s island. He does end up staying all seven years and then is set free, so his time in the island, shows the readers how strong-willed and strong-minded he can be.

Throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey, David Bowman shows how he relates to his Greek equivalent, Odysseus. First, how emotionless he is when he lets go of Frank Poole’s body into space and how Odysseus slaughters all of his maids. Second, when David Bowman shows his intelligence, quite like Odysseus blinding the cyclops, when he finds another way to enter through the emergency landing hatch. Lastly, David Bowman’s strong mind related to Odysseus when he continues to go to Jupiter, and when Odysseus stays captive for seven years, but “toughs it out.” Overall, out of all the characters in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I would say David Bowman relates to Odysseus the most.

-Satej B.

2001: A Space Odyssey is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Essay: Odysseus’s Dangerous Ego and Pride

odyssey_homerIn “The Odyssey,” a epic poem, translated by Robert Fagles, Odysseus represents an archetype that resonates in our culture today. I believe that Odysseus represents an archetype of a hero. Odysseus was well-known for being the King of Ithaca, his wife Penelope, occupied the suitors for many years while Odysseus went to fight at Troy. I believe that Odysseus is a hero but not an ideal one and that we should not accept his heroic conventions because many of his actions throughout the story make me believe the fact that he is too harsh at many times.

Odysseus’s actions in Book 22 represent show his cruelness to others. For example, when Odysseus trapped and killed the suitors, which is completely understandable, he also forced the maids to clean the blood and then he killed them. The maids were completely innocent, even though they sided with the suitors, they didn’t have a choice and at that moment there was no other choice then to listen to the suitors. I believe that the way Odysseus treated the maids, even after they betrayed him, was cruel and harsh and that this represent the merciless attitude of Odysseus.

Another good example of Odysseus’s non-heroic conventions is in Book 9, is when Odysseus stays to see the Cyclops, Odysseus just wants to brag about having a gift from the Cyclops. If he either stole some food, as his men persuaded him to, or just leave without food, lives would have been saved. Many men were murdered by the Cyclops because of Odysseus’s pride.

Throughout the story, Odysseus is on a journey, and his wife, Penelope, is at home keeping the suitors “occupied.” In many oppurtunities, Odysseus cheats on Penelope, which doesn’t represent and heroic attributes because honesty is one of them. Odysseus cheats on his wife many times with Circe and Calypso. Even though Odysseus was “unhappy” with Calypso, he was forced to sleep with her at night, but I’m sure he didn’t complain too much about being forced into it. To add on to Odysseus’s dishonesty, “Odysseus stayed with Calypso for seven years.” In modern times cheating is much more serious, the act of it, even back then, is nothing to be proud of and does definitely not represent honesty.

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Odysseus and Penelope by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein

Another notable example of Odysseus’s non-heroic actions is when after he stabs Polyphemus, the cyclops, in the eye, he ends up escaping but Odysseus shouts back to the cyclops giving away his position and almost causing the ship to wreck. A hero, puts others in front of him, Odysseus put his ego and pride over his men on the ship, almost causing the death of his men to occur. His cockiness and selfishness is proven throughout the poem to be dangerous to others affiliated with him.

A trait that all heroes should have is humility. Odysseus doesn’t have any of humility. When Odysseus and his men are reflecting upon their escape from the Cyclops, Odysseus shows his true-self. “Did I not keep my nerve, use my wits, to find a way out for us.” (p.776-777) This shows how Odysseus is unappreciative of his men and that he thinks is the sole reason of success. Thinking that you are the best and everyone else is nothing compared to you isn’t the way the hero should act or think in front of his men.

Throughout the story, Odysseus proves that he is a ruthless and lying person. First, when Odysseus makes the maids at his house clean the blood and then kill them, that shows his ruthless trait. Second, when Odysseus wants to brag about a gift from the Cyclops, thats shows his big ego. Next, when Odysseus cheats on his wife, Penelope, with Circe and Calypso that represents his dishonesty and disloyalty, especially when he is “forced” to stay with Calypso, for seven long years, while Penelope is busy occupying the suitors to help Odysseus. Lastly, Odysseus shows that he has no humility when he tells his men that he is the sole reason why they escaped from the Cyclops. These traits do not represent a hero in any way, that is why it make my opinion to be in assurance that Odysseus is not a hero and that we should not accept his “heroic conventions,” because they are quite far from being heroic in many ways.

Works Cited

Homer, The Odyssey, Trans, Robert Fagles, New York: Penguin, 2002, Kindle.

“Odysseus | Greek Mythology.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.

-Satej B.

Sun + Science = Fun

What started as a dreary, overcast morning in Mission Viejo later turned into a warm, lovely sunny afternoon. Perfect conditions for sun printing! On Saturday, March 19th, teens gathered at the Mission Viejo Library to make crafts using a product called Inkodye. Right out of the bottle, the fluid is translucent and bland in hue but when set in the sun for about twelve minutes, the dye reacts and releases its true, vibrant color! Using photo negatives and paper cut outs, our group made some really creative pieces of art. See for yourself!

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

killamockingbird_harperleeTo Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a story about the injustices served to blacks in the 1930s. Jean Louise Finch, more commonly known as Scout, is the main character of this novel. The majority of the novel is focused on the idea that a man who lives down the street is crazy, his name being Boo Radley. Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill. Over the course of the summer, Scout, Jem, and Finch become fascinated with crazy theories such as the idea that Boo comes out in the middle of the night to hunt. As the book progresses, the main idea temporarily shifts to a court case regarding a black man, Tom Robinson, raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, defends Tom despite the fact that the majority of their community is against Tom Robinson. As the trial progresses, Scout seems to gain a better understanding of the horrors blacks face in this time period. She gains an understanding for the injustices in their country.

Through the course of the story, Scout learns about Boo Radley and reaches an unexpected conclusion about him. On the other hand, Scout also learns a lot about the discrimination black people receive, the different treatment they receive, and the different social standards set for them. All in all, I think that this is a piece of literature that everyone should read because of the striking reality of discrimination. Not only that, but there are many valuable lessons underneath the character of Boo Radley. In the end, this is not only a classic, but it is also a book that contains a great mixture between pleasure and entertainment.

-Melika R.

Book Versus Movie: Starters/Selfless

starters_lissapriceThe book Starters by Lissa Price, and the movie Selfless don’t seem to resemble each other at first. However, after looking deeply at both I started to see some similarities. The idea of putting the mind of an older mind into a young person’s body is interesting, but the way the characters use that ability is so different.

In Starters, Enders (older people) rent the bodies of Starters (younger people) who give their bodies to the organization. Enders get to live in a younger body for a limited time and can do things like skydiving or horseback riding. Starters get paid a lot of money after they are made over and rented. This business is very common, because in this world, Enders are very rich and Starters live as homeless people. During the rented time, an Ender’s body is safely asleep, awaiting its mind’s return. This routine seems very normal and harmless, but in Selfless it’s almost the opposite.

selflessIn Selfless, the purpose of the experiment is to enable old but intelligent minds to continue living in order to develop and fulfill new ideas. However, they don’t rent bodies; they steal them. Before an elder’s mind can be transferred into a younger body, they must disappear or fake their death so no one notices they are missing. The younger person’s family gets paid a lot of money once their body is sold, so they no longer have a life of their own. Also, the young person’s personality is lost in the process. This process, known as shedding, is kept secret so as not to be shut down. Shedding is tailor made for the rich, as only they can afford the luxury to live forever in a younger body.

Both the book and the movie have similar storylines but the direction each take are different, with one using it to help both parties and the other ultimately killing someone. I loved the reading the dystopian book and couldn’t wait to check out the sequel, Enders. The movie was also very intriguing, making it nearly impossible to take my eyes off the screen.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

Starters and Selfless are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

lordoftheflies_williamgoldingLord of the Flies, by William Golding, is a novel concerning a group of boys stranded on an island while trying to escape the horrors of a World War. As they landed on the island, two boys found each other, Ralph and Piggy. Together, these boys found a conch, and the conch gathered all the boys together. At first Ralph was elected chief, however immediately he had his power challenged by Jack, another boy on the island. Over time, what started as a civilized society, turned into savagery. The conch, which at one point symbolized civilization, eventually became useless. As the transition into savagery was made, the boys split into two groups: savage and civilized. Ralph was the leader of the civilized boys and Jack was the leader of the savage boys.

As time progressed, less boys were civilized and grew more savage. At moments, all traces of civilization disappeared within the boys, especially during their hunts for pigs. However, the book was almost meant to be ironic. While there was a war on the island, there was a war in the real world. In addition, the war on the island was portrayed as avoidable and foolish, similar to the war in the real world. The island that these boys were stuck on were actually reality. All in all, I think that this is once again another piece of literature that is amazing and one that everyone should read. The book truly portrays the little thought that is put into resolving a problem and how many countries jump straight into a war, just like these boys.

-Melika R.