I’m trying to learn for my English class and I’m stuck. Can you help?
reply to these posts, from your perspective.
Philip Roth states that one of the benefits of literature is the incorporation of different perspectives into its narratives, which makes it possible for the individual to develop empathy towards others. Specifically, because literature allows readers to witness perspectives that are significantly different from their own, they are momentarily taken out of the isolation of their own perspectives. This, in turn, translate to a better empathetic reasoning in the real world, beyond the pages of fiction and nonfiction. Roth’s leap is possible because, just like with books, people also come with built-in narratives, which makes getting accustomed to the presentation and endearment of others with diverse narratives, whether in the confines of a book or in real life, empathy increases in the individual.
Roth’s concept can be applied to the story “Girl”, by Jamaica Kincaid. In it, the author represents childhood and adolescence for a woman of her background – black, woman, foreigner, etc. – in a rather peculiar and interesting structure. Understanding the text fully can be difficult because of the reference to cultural-specific terms, but it is not difficult to develop a sense of empathy towards the narrator. It is clear that she is struggling with the mandates imposed on her and her overall circumstances, which generates sympathy from the reader even though her perspective is rather different from the reader.
I certainly agree with Roth’s stance about the advantages of reading and writing. Throughout the years, the books I have read have shown me that it is beneficial to be exposed to ideas different than one’s own, to learn more about the experiences and opinions of those around us. It really shows us that it is possible for literature to have an impact beyond the realm of artistic exercise, as it can bridge people together without need for direct interaction between two individuals, by connecting us to contrasting and diverging stories.
two posts from friends that u need to reply individually:
As I unpack Roth’s quote, he mentions that he is able to set aside his narrow minded views and rather than be stuck with what academic and science has taught him, he is able to set his imagination free and create his own world. Fiction allows us to put aside theories and logic and not fear the judgement of falling into the world of fallacies and faults. He is able to dive into a world outside of his everyday life, in which he is imaginative. Often times we dream, but if we were to tell another person these dreams we would be scolded. Roth, “frequently blurs the line between reality and fiction. It is known for being intensely autobiographical, and energized by dialogue and elements of social and political commentary.” This makes perfect sense being that a majority of his writing involves sex and religion. These are subjects that culturally we are often told right from wrong, and to be careful when we speak.
Sensitive subjects such as sex and religion are talked about in holy books, therefore as a society we are taught to be politically correct in order that we not offend others. Roth sees power in the ability to set your own fears aside. He has done so by reading and writing in an imaginative way that combines his greatest questions about the world in a fictional manner that can inspire others to do so similarly. He ends his quote with a comparison, in which he states, “this is how I choose to write.” Ultimately he is speaking to his readers to convey his inspirations behind his words and stories.
While Roth and Jamaica Kincaid’s writing styles are very different. The short story written by Jamaica Kincaid, Girl, is a great example as to why Roth has chosen to write nonfiction. In the story Girl it seems to be written in almost a handbook format. Roth would consider this to be very old-fashioned and boring. The author, plans out her weekly schedule and sets out rules in which you must adhere when completing activities. When you eat you must do so that will not upset another person’s stomach and when you buy clothes to check and make sure it is clean. Throughout Jamaica Kincaid’s story she phrases things such as, “this is how you set a table for breakfast; this is how to behave in front of men.” When she ends her short story with a question that makes you reconsider how your daily activities and how you go about daily rituals will be accepted within societal opinion based on traditional social norms. Roth would argue that this form of writing is not inspiring and imaginative, therefore it is dry and does not allow readers an escape from their everyday rituals and lives.
I believe Roth makes a very good point as to why he chooses to write fiction. I believe readers pick up books with different intentions in mind. Personally, I love history and learning about historical events. I cannot get through novels that are scientific fiction, however there are some fiction novels that are based on true stories that can be made more exciting with writing styles such as Roth’s. I initially thought about stories such as Catcher in The Rye and Harry Potter which impacted me in a way similarly to Roth’s point of view. I encourage people to read and write a variety of writing methods such as fiction, non-fiction, and documentaries. Within these sects there are subsections. I can definitely see the benefit in Roth wanting to escape his reality and put aside rationality when it comes to writing fiction.
- Paraphrase & Explanation
To paraphrase Philip Roth: I read fiction in order to forget about the place I am, the people around me, and my sense of self for the sake of being able to view the world through someone else’s eyes. I use the same method when I write.
Sometimes when reading a story, especially a good one, the hero or narrator is not just relatable, but the reader can strip away all sense of self and become the main character. It’s no longer the reader reviewing events that had unfolded in the past, but rather, now, the character living in the present.
I hadn’t read “Girl” until completing part one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It first seemed like a mundane list of tasks, then instructions, until I suddenly stopped hearing my voice, and heard Mama, the character I named, tell the girl, “…when buying cotton to make yourself a nice blouse, be sure that it don’t have gum on it…” (lines 3-4). It was here I could visualize Mama looking at the girl and through the girl, Mama was looking at me. Although the girl sheepishly said only a couple of things, I could easily picture Mama’s disapproval every time she warned the girl about being a slut.
- Personal Reflection
I’ve always found it easy to see other people’s perspective, fiction or nonfiction. When I watch film or read a good story, I can picture myself walking in the main characters shoes. I think it’s healthy to escape from reality from time to time, I think it’s also an important ability when making daily decisions. When I was in high school, one of my favorite novels was The Beach by Alex Garland. The idea of adventure and finding a secluded place and needing to jump a waterfall to get there was an image I truly enjoyed visiting.