Billennium questions

BILLENNIUM, BY J. G BALLARD (1961)

 

  1. Write a detailed synopsis of the story.

 

The story is set in the distant future as the title suggests. Twenty million people are squashed into a city putting tremendous pressure on space. The city council has restricted the space that an individual can occupy to 4.5 mere  square meters. John Ward and Henry Rossiter are friends who share their tiny living space. They are both employed but find it hard to get by in the crowded city where pedestrian traffic jams can last for days with no one being able to move due to congestion. While knocking about their cubicle, Ward discovers a forgotten room adjacent to their cubicle. They are overwhelmed by this new space, thrilled, as they have never known so much. Together, they buy a Victorian wardrobe which is the only thing of beauty in their drab living area. Soon, Rossiter has the idea of inviting their girlfriends to share the extra room with them. The girls in turn ask their families to move in and take advantage of the space. Ward who had hated the greedy landlords soon becomes a landlord himself, with making money taking precedence over enjoying their new room. In order to make more space, Ward and Rossiter break up the beautiful wardrobe.

 

  1. Discuss the theme of over-population and the effect it has on both the way of life and quality of life of the inhabitants of the city.

In the society that exists sometime in the future, overpopulation has swelled to the extent that space seems to have shrunk. All available land is utilized to feed the billions and to live on is rationed to the extent that every individual was forced to live in a cubicle of 4.5 cubic meters. Even, if anyone wanted to move to a bigger place, the spare part of the room was given to another person. This, is added to the fact that the capitalist system provoked on the society the necessity to consume. By having more space they would buy more furniture which would occupy more space. This way, under these circumstances, they would live in oppression anyways.

 

Ward and Rossiter stumble upon an unoccupied room which is like manna from the wilderness. Instead of using it wisely, they invited their girlfriends who bring in their families too. Ward and Rossiter turn into usurious landlords who find that having extra space under their control makes them powerful. It is also a tool to make money. Soon there are so many in that room that they are worse off than when they had not discovered the extra space.

 

  1. The quest for living space has become an overriding obsession with the people of the city. Discuss this theme in detail. Include in your answer some discussion of the ways in which Ballard makes the quest for space dominate the characters’ lives.

 

At these imaginary future times, what transformed ordinary people into wealthy society was having land. By having more space, it can be rent and, therefore, be able to make money. However, that money would be useless because, due to the congested streets, people was unable to move to go and spend that money.

Taking this into account, when Ward and Rossiter find the abandoned room, and saw that it was having considerable success, Ward divided to become the landowner so he would gain money. Nevertheless, at some point, there are so many people in that room that they are worse off than when they had not discovered the extra space.   

 

  1. What sort of relationship does Ballard put forward between the inner world of the individual (as represented by Ward and Rossiter) and the outer world in which they live. In other words, how does Ballard conceptualise the effect of surviving daily life in a hopelessly over-crowded city on the consciousness of the individual as demonstrated by the ways in which Ward and Rossiter manage the gift of space in the secret room they discover?

 


Rossiter and Ward hate the way they had to live, because the world is overpopulated and they don’t have extra living space. Also the hate of Ward that he has to landlords because they are so used to the society and his ambition of power, he became a landlord, something that he didn’t want.

 

  1. In the story, Ballard does attempt some sort of explanation of the social, political and economic causes of the extreme over-population that has beset the world. Explain his views as they are presented in the story.

The problem of overpopulation, where the people was having lots of children and also other people wanted to buy a house. An example of this is the law of the government which established that the families with more than 3 children would be given a bigger cubicle to living, this affected the population and then overpopulation affected the place to live.

 

  1. Do you agree with his argument? Do you think that current population growth projections indicate that we are likely to end up in the situation portrayed in the story?

I don’t agree with this, maybe it could happen  the opposite, people could stop having children because they can’t maintain them or because they don’t want. If this happens it would be a problem to a point where humanity is going to exting.

 

7.Describe and analyse Ward’s character in some detail. What values does he hold? Why does Ballard make use of this type of character as the main character for this story?

John Ward has a very “old fashioned” mind. He still hasn’t gotten used to the overpopulation so he thinks like us. He hates the society that he lives in and he hates landlords because he thinks they take advantage of people. But Ballard proves to us that we really can’t change the way things are, so Ward ends up becoming a landlord. That’s why Ballard chooses him as a main character, to prove that we will accommodate to survive .

 

  1. What role does Rossiter play in the story?

The role of Rossiter in this story is

Rossiter is very different from Ward though they are close friends. He is more aggressive in his approach and persuades Ward to let their girlfriends live into the spare room. This is a disastrous move as the girls decide to bring their families into the secret room. Rossiter is not sensitive to beauty and sacrifices the one thing that symbolizes beauty in their lives, the Victorian wardrobe.

  1. Describe the role of the female characters in the story.

After Rossiter convinced Ward to let their girlfriends live with them, the girls took advantage of that situation and brought members of their families into the room. They ended up being six people, “Now they are six beds now in line along the wall”.

 

  1. Discuss the effects that overpopulation and its attendant ills has had on the nature of family life in relation to Ward’s family as well as Judith and Helen’s family relationships.

In that time and in those circumstances, overpopulation was common in that society. People were trapped in that horrible and hard reality and it was difficult to have that problem solve. “Over a hundred people lived in the top three floors of the old rooming house”, this quote means that there were millions of people and that they lived as they could and where they cold as they didn’t have space. So having a family was just helpful to have more space.

 

  1. What does the secret room symbolise in the story?

in our opinion, we think that the secret room symbolizes hope as well as freedom and illusion as they are always looking for more and more space, but instead of having the secret room for them, they fulfill the bedroom with victorian furniture and with a lot of people inside of it. The fact that they found the “secret room” which finally was not secret anymore gives an illusion to them that sometime they would break up with that reality but it was not like that.

 

  1. Why do you think Ward and Rossiter are unable to keep the gift of space to themselves? Is Ballard making a comment on how our inner world ultimately reflects the shape of the external world in which we live?

We believe that they couldn’t keep the gift of space for themselves because they were used to the reality of over population, the reality of not having space for themselves, of being uncomfortable and of not having any kind of privacy and letting go the things you have.

 

  1. What sort of living arrangement do they eventually end up allowing (and accommodating to) in their secret room?

Rossiter urged ward to let their girlfriends move in, who then, they brought members of their family into the room.  They let too much people live with them in the room with the furniture so they ended up without space.

Discuss Ballard’s style and language in the story? Consider also in what ways it is appropriate to the nature of the story being told.

 

The author uses third person narrative all throughout the story. Words are chosen to highlight the crammed cubicles in which people live out their lives. There is no privacy or comfort. Describing Ward’s cubicle, the narrator says “partition pressed against his knees and he could hardly move”.

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Poem-Description Recoleta Cemetery.

In the language class we have learnt how to write a description of a place and we have been writing several of them. We wrote the last description in pairs, and I worked with Luz esteban. We had to choose a picture of a touristic place of our city/neighbourhood and describe it. Then our literature teacher asked us to write a poem about the place we had picked for our description, which in our case was the Recoleta Cemetery. I wrote the poem with Belen Brito Peret and Trinidad porretti. Here I leave the description and the poem:

Choose a picture of a touristic place of our city/neighborhood. Write a description (200 words)

This famous cemetery, located in the distinguished neighborhood of Recoleta, is one of the main touristic places of Buenos Aires city. Designed by próspero catelin, it is the place where the greatest number of people in the country are buried.

As soon as you arrived at this place, you can appreciate the main entrance which is composed by four columns of Greek Doric order, where the first symbols of life and death are inscripted. Moreover, this huge cemetery, contains several statues in a wide variety of architectural styles, which gives the place an unique and exceptional design. What is more, this daily open burying ground has over 90 tombs that are listed as national historical monuments.

 In addition to this, the recoleta cemetery is the most exclusive graveyard in Argentina. All around the cemetery, there  are the tombstones with their faded etching. This graveyard is full of stone, moss, yew trees and the decaying remnants of bone and flesh. Furthermore, even though it should be a spooky cemetery that causes chills,  it has the air fragrant with pine-needles which provokes a pleasant effect on the visitors. As you walk around, you can feel the atmosphere inside of it is warm and quiet. There are no sounds from the streets or disturbing noises from the people.

Finally, You can walk among the corridors between the tombs and appreciate the sound of the birds singing and the fresh air that you can breathe. It is also possible to highlight the different and original designs of the tombs that the families of the death person have created.

Unseen essay (One Street Beyond)

Essay question: how do the words of the poem express the poet’s feelings about the children she observes at play?

In the poem “One Street Beyond”, the author uses different words to express their feelings and to describe the children who are on the street. In the following essay, I will analyze how the poet uses dark imagery and other literary resources to express the feeling of hopelessness she feel when she watches the children play with no supervision.

To begin with, the author describes the setting where the children play all day. From the very beginning, we know that they play “from first light to pub time” and “all through the long August.” The author describes the place where they play saying they walk around “the grit of empty underpasses” and “down the absurd grass flanks of the main road.” These descriptions reveal a dark place, dirty and uncared for. It is clearly not a suitable place for children.

The author also describes how the children play with dangerous objects such as “broken glass and match-sticks” and “throwing coke cans and threats.” There seems to be a lot of violence in the way in which they play, and for most of the poem the parents are not even present. Other descriptions mention “tractors and go-carts squealing in mindless circles” and says about the children that “some are running away, and others, standing staring at a vacant play-space.” All these images portray a dangerous, dark place filled with children who are left alone to do as they please. Therefore, it is clear that the poet feels sorry for these kids, since she is always emphasising how awful everything is and how alone the children are. The author describes the children as “darkening and hardening”, which is why we could say that the image of the tractors going round and round with no direction is a metaphor for “the trackless children”, as they are described, because there are no adults to help them find their way.

The description of the parents is also very important in this poem. We know that the parents are not present because the kids play without supervision, and the author describes how little they care about their children. The description says that the “fathers come and leave in vans or on foot without a word”, and the mothers “are always tired and shouting from windows.” They don’t stay with their kids, and they only communicate through shouting, which illustrates how far away they are as they can’t even communicate in a healthy way. Through these descriptions, we imagine that the parents haven’t given the children advice about how to go through the world alone, which is illustrated in how they play with dangerous objects. The words of the poet clearly judge the parents and their attitude towards their children, which reinforces the hypothesis that the poet feels sorry for the kids, and thinks they deserve more care than they are getting. It also tells us that the author doesn’t blame the children for doing dangerous things but rather the parents for letting them do so.

Last but not least, the ending is very powerful. The last few lines read “they started with white socks, new toys, washed faces, but always end here, dirty and alone, one street beyond justice or love.” These words summarise what the author has been trying to tell us throughout the poem: that these children playing alone in a dirty, empty space symbolises a great failure from their parents. The scene of them playing alone represents how little love they receive every day of their lives, not just during August. There is a contradiction between how the parents leave them and how they end up by the end of the day, and it is as if the parents don’t really care about what happens to them when they are not around.

To sum up, the author clearly feels that the children of the poem deserve a better life, and that the parents should be more present to take care of them. The ending very clearly states that, because of bad parenting, these kids are “one street beyond justice or love.” By writing this powerful ending and using dark imagery to convey the terrible atmosphere in which these children are immersed, the author makes the reader feel sorry for them, as well.

 

Tyres questions

The narrative of Tyres is set against the tension of German-occupied France during the Second World War, where relationships are strained, little can be openly communicated and suspicion is rife.
The brutality of war suddenly intervenes in the middle of the story with the killing of the suspected members of the French Resistance movement (the Maquis) and the villagers forced to view the bodies, their ‘guts…literally looped and dripping almost to the floor’, before the hanging of the ringleader nicknamed Petit Ours from the village bridge.
Set against this is the gradually developing love affair between the young 17 year old lad learning to maintain vehicles in his father’s garage and the girl who cycles past each day. The young man’s narration leads the reader gradually to his final act of involvement with the Resistance against the Germans and its effects; ill-luck seems to be the cause of guilt, and the final revelation of the age of the narrator, 44, shows how long that guilt and fidelity has lasted.
In this story, Thorpe sets ordinariness such as working on cars, changing tyres, a developing relationship against extraordinariness: the Second World War and German occupation, to create a small poignant story of war.

Questions:
1. (p 396/397) Sum up his boyhood thoughts, opinions and feelings.
Raoul was a child who`s father started a business the year of his birth. Years later, Raoul started working on the business of his father as a mechanic. He always saw these as the body and the soul and he said that he is proud of his business. First of all he was scared of the hiss of the compressors, of the great blade that took off the rubber peeling it like an orange. He learnt to see a tyre as sad when it chin lay flat on the ground. Every time he heard of a local accident, his hear bit faster. He was always, from maturity, bigger than he ever was, but he was never fat.
2. What attitude does the father, Monsieur Andre Paulhan, have towards the Germans, the Resistance and to his son’s (Raoul) involvement in the war and resistance?
Monsieur André Paulhan and his son, Raoul, has a garage where they repaired French and German cars. They had to has a good attitude towards the Germans because if not his business would bankrupt and they would have bad conditions of life.
3. Describe his first meeting and emotions with the young girl when Raoul was 14/15 in 1940s and three years later at 17/18. (P399/400)
“I noticed her first as a very young girl , just coming into womanhood, when she arrived in the yard with a tyre in ribbons, and caught her ankle on the pedal, walking the bycle towards me. She was nothing much to look at then, execpt for a mass of beautiful, glossy black hair, but she spoke in a very sweet, soft voice,and had a winning smile. She hardly look at me and (both being shy, I suppose) we exchange only a few commonplaces.”
This quotation it is explaining the first meeting between Raoul and the young lady. When the lady was riding her bicycle, one of the tyres broke so she had to enter to the garage where she was about to meet Raoul.
4. How do these lines reflect the Raoul’s feelings at the end of the story: “Someone who, if suddenly no longer there, can leave a hole in your heart, and a feeling of doom until the moment he or she reappears.”
As we can see these lines reflect a lot the feeling of Raoul at the end of the story, he didn’t continue his life when he lost Cecile, he didn’t fell in love again and he never recovered because his heart was broken and, as the lines say, he had a big hole in his heart. This is not a mature reaction because doing this, he was losing his life too, and Cecile would probably want him to move on, and do something for himself. So here it is really clear, that these lines are reflecting the end of the story.
5 p401 How involved in the Resistance does Raoul think that the young girl and his father are? What does the threat: “Try a nail or two” imply about the father?
Raoul thinks that the young girl is part of the Maquis, he thinks that she is working for the other side, for France. Raoul also believes that she has realised that his father is negotiating with the Germans. “‘Petit Ours’ she said, all of sudden. I felt renewed panic inside”. This is really bad for Raoul and his father because if the Resistance know that they are traitors, they will kill them. The quote “Try a nail or two”, as we said, implies a lot Raoul’s father, because, if the Resistance notices that they are collaborating with the German, by letting him use the garage, they will murder them. The Resistance is working against the Germans because of all they have done to their country.
6. (p402) What does Raoul do to bring the girl closer to him? How does his father react?
¨This was about a month after the girl had stopped to thank me. I decided to do something clownish, to make her stop again…I saw the girl in the distance…to my relief, I have to say (nothing can be relied on except death and so forth). There was nobody else on the road. I stepped out into the middle with a bucket full of stones and earth and started to pour it into the pot-hole, the subject of our former exchange…She stopped. ¨You have no right to do that¨
This quotation is explaining how the boy wanted to bring her closer to him. He put a bucket with stones and then he dropped the bucket full of stones into the road. Moreover, the girl said that he would be arrested because he was overstepping the road.
¨His face (no more nor less emaciated that it was before the war, just a little sharper) gleamed with sweat and grace. I smiled back innocently…He wiped his mouth and set the glass down more energetically than usual. ¨Wipe that bloody stupid grin off your face¨ he said ¨Or I will think you are up to something¨…He must have felt cornered in some way. He wouldn’t have liked that.
In this quotation we can find how the father of Raoul feel about how his son bring the girl closer to him. He feel mad, ¨cornered¨, with anger…etc.
7. Describe Andre’s feelings about religion and about the Petain government. P403 and elsewhere.
Raoul’s father dislike Catholics also he thinks that the war was a personal attack on his business because he can not work and earn money without the Germans repairing their cars their. That means that he can not get out of his enemies. Also the narrator speaks about the Jews, he says that the Catholics never mind about the Jews that were taken away by the enemies.
Furthermore, in the story we can see that Raoul continue talking about Cecile Viala, the girl that he looked for years. He said he she never mention again Petit Ours, or anything related with the hide-class and the resistance, including the war too.
8 Finally the romance with Cecile Viala is in the open with Raoul’s family p403/404 How would you describe their feelings for each other?
As we know, Raoul is very in love with Cecile, he loves her very much. He thinks that she is pleasant, pretty and clever. Raoul adores her because he had made his first promises with someone who loves.
Later on, Raoul proposed marriage to her. In this quote we can read about it.
¨ page 404 line three up to line six-teen¨
This quote is explaining where and how Roul proposed marriage to Cecile under the chestnut tree. Noticeably, she said ¨Yes¨
9.( p405) What has prompted Raoul to sabotage the Gestapo officer’s inner tube?
One day, when Raoul was in the coffee a man came and said to him that he had to sabotage the German cars because the man knew that his father and him were repairing their cars. Later on, when a german came into the garage to be repair Raoul remembered what the man said to him. So he changed the inner tube for another old inner tube.
10. What is the faint hope Raoul has for Cecile as she accepts the ride in the car?
Raoul´s faint hope was that Cecile was forced to go into the German car, so he wouldn’t be blame for Cecile’s death. The tyres were in a dangerous state so she was probably going to die.
11 . The story ends with a reluctant mood to shift with the times. Explain how this is true.
The story ends with a reluctant mood to shift with the times because the love of his life is taken from him. Raoul still loves Cecile and he can’t live without her. Also, he is alone in the world of war and the Germans have destroyed so much from his country. He loses all passion for the job he loved because of the accident of Cecile, we can see that business is much better for him at the beginning of the story. In addition, at the end of the story we can appreciate that he stays locked in the past, he continues to place flowers on the road for her and he doesn’t marry anymore, we can say that he destroyed his own life.

A view from the Bridge (in process)

Arthur Miller was an american  and  was born on October 17th, 1915 in New York City. He was a playwright and a screenwriter. Is considered one of the greatest American playwrights of the 20th century. His best known plays include:

  • The Crucible
  • All my songs
  • A View From The Bridge
  • Death  of Salesman

A View From The Bridge is a Greek tragedy written by Arthur Miller. The date of the premier was on September 29th in 1955 in the Coronet theatre placed in New York.

he wrote a lot about the war

Jewish immigrants

he was accused of being a communist

he was not a welcome person in the state

-Important facts about Arthur Miller.

  • He was born the 17th of October of 1915 in USA, during WW1, and he died the 10th of October of 2005 in USA.
  • He was the son of a Jewish family who inmigrated from Poland to the USA.
  • He was a playright and essayist.
  • He married three times(one of his wives was Marilyn Monroe).
  • He worked during the time he went to school to help his family’s economical situation.
  • He wrote his first play while in the University.
  • He thought that a play should embody a delicate balance between an individual and society, between the singular personality and the polity, and between the separate and collective elements of life.
  • He thought himself a writer of social plays with a strong emphasis on moral problems in American society.
  • Miller is known for the consciousness of the characters in his plays.

-When was it written?

The play was written in 1955, and fist staged on the same year.

-Historical and social context.

(find information about Italian inmigration to the USA after WW1)

Because of the economic problems in Italy, population left their country and immigrate to USA. After Musollini’s death and the end of World War 2 Italy entered into an economic crisis, so inhabitants decided to leave everything and tried to find luck in USA because there they had better opportunities than in Italy.

 

Essay writing (The Prison)

Essay writing

 

Essay question: Comment closely on how the protagonist of THE PRISON can not escape his destiny.

 

In the following essay I am going to comment closely about the impossibility of the protagonist to find a way out of his destiny.

 

First of all, Tony Castelli’s was a kid of “many dreams and schemes”. When he was sixteen years old his life changed completely, he became a thief and left school. After that, before he knew what was going on, he had been “frightened by the whole mess” this means that he was afraid of what was going on. In addition, the fact of “determinism” means that he was determined because he had a prison in his mind. He could not escape out of his destiny because he didn’t  trust his choices and stayed locked in the past because he thought that his destiny was metaphorically written. As an example, this is shown when he tried to save the girl of being a thief but he failed. This action shows that he was a loser because he didn’t have control of his own actions and thoughts because everything he tried to do he got terrified and failed.

 

Moreover, the story is full of evidence demonstrating this. “He beat it off to Texas…when he came back everybody said it was for Rosa and the candy store, and it was all arranged again and he, without saying no, was in it”. This quotation shows that he went as far as he could to avoid marrying Rosa, he came back and didn’t took advantage of what it was supposed to be his destiny. Furthermore, “… her father came in shouting that he was a criminal and chopped  the machine apart with a plumbers hammer” this quotation shows that he tried to do something for himself but he didn’t know that it was illegal so after some time, Rosa’s father came and destroyed the slot machine so he couldn’t have what he wanted. Finally, his actions also expresses that they seen to be written because all the things that he tried to do he failed so the story shows that his life was like his destiny.

 

In conclusion, the protagonist of The Prison cannot escape his destiny despite of the fact that he tried to change the situation he ended up being a loser , with a horrible life. He did not follow the right way so he ended up being a miserable man who could not escape his destiny.