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spartan24018
Oct 8, 2008, 01:11 PM
My english teacher asked the class to write an analysis essay on Fault Lines by Meena Alexander. The assignment was to write an analysis essay on how Alexander uses language to explore and represent her fractured identity.
I'll post the copy of the part he chose for us to read and I'll post my analysis paper for it

The passage we had to read:

The plate glass window that protected me inside the place of delicate teas and sharply flavored asparagus, tuna fish sandwiches with heapings of scallions and Line mint, glinted back oddly in my face. I caught my two (5) eyes crooked, face disfigured.
What would it mean for one such as I to pick up a mirror and try to see her face in it?
Night after night, I asked myself the question. What might it mean to look at myself straight, see myself?
(10) How many different gazes would that need? And what to do with the crookedness of flesh, thrown back at the eyes? The more I thought about it, the less sense any of it seemed to make. My voice splintered in my ears into a cacophony: whispering cadences, shouts, moans, the (15) quick delight of bodily pleasure, all rising up as if the condition of being fractured had freed the selves jammed into my skin, multiple beings locked into the journeys of one body. And what of all the cities and small towns and (20) villages I have lived in since birth: Allahabad, Tiruvella, Kozencheri, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, all within the boundaries of India; Khartoum in the Sudan; Nottingham in Britain; and now this island of Manhattan? How should I spell out these fragments of a broken (25) geography?
And what of all the languages compacted in my brain: Malayalam, my mother tongue, the language of first speech; Hindi which I learnt as a child; Arabic from my years in the Sudan—odd shards survive; (30) French; English? How would I map all this in a book of days? After all, my life did not fall into the narratives I had been taught to honor, tales that closed back on themselves, as a snake might, swallowing its own ending: birth, an appropriate education — not too much, (35) not too little — an arranged marriage to a man of suitable birth and background, somewhere within the boundaries of India,
Sometimes in my fantasies, the kind that hit you in broad daylight, riding the subway, I have imagined (40) being a dutiful wife, my life perfect as a bud opening in the cool monsoon winds, then blossoming on its stalk on the gulmohar tree, petals dark red, falling onto the rich soil outside my mother's house in Tiruvella. In the inner life coiled within me, I have sometimes longed to be a (45) bud on a tree, blooming in due season, the tree trunk well rooted in a sweet, perpetual place. But everything I think of is filled with ghosts, even this longing. This imagined past — what never was — is a choke hold. I sit here writing, for I know that time does not come (5O) fluid and whole into my trembling hands. All that is here comes piecemeal, though sometimes the joints have fallen into place miraculously, as if the heavens had opened and mango trees fruited in the rough asphalt of upper Broadway.
(55) But questions persist: Where did I come from? How did I become what I am? How shall I start to write myself, configure my "I" as Other, image this life I lead, here, now, in America? What could I ever be but a mass of faults, a fault mass?
(60) I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. It went like this:
Fault: Deficiency, lack, want of something.. . Default, failing, neglect. A defect, imperfection, blameable quality or feature: a. in moral charac-(65) ter, b. in physical or intellectual constitution, appearance, structure or workmanship. From geology or mining: a dislocation or break in I the strata or vein. Examples: "Every coal field is ... split asunder, and broken into tiny (70) fragments by faults." (Anstead, Ancient World,
1847) "There are several kinds of fault e.g., faults of Dislocation; of Denudation; of Upheaval; etc." (Greasley, Glossary of Terms in Coal Mining, 1883) "Fragments of the adjoining (75) rocks mashed and jumbled together, in some cases bound into a solid mass called fault-stuff . or fault-rock." (Green, Physical Geography, 1877)
That's it, I thought. That's all I am, a woman cracked (SO) by multiple migrations. Uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing. Her words are all askew. And so I tormented myself on summer nights, and in the chill wind of autumn, tossing back and forth, worrying myself sick. Till my mind slipped back to my mother— (85) amma — she who gave birth to me, and to amma's amma, my veliammechi, grandmother Kunju, drawing me back into the darkness of the Tiruvella house with its cool • bedrooms and coiled verandas: the shelter of memory.




My essay:

Meena Alexander distinguishes her fractured individualism by illustrating the confinement of the many fragments of her identity that do not seem to fit together; exhibiting a lack of contentment and a dejected tone. Alexander seems torn “night by night” by the idea to “pick up a mirror and to try to see herself in it.” The “night by night” struggle personifies the inner conflict the author has to see herself straight. It gives us the sense of her lack of personal understanding; the first of many unique style of language Meena Alexander uses to delve into her scattered and uncertain identity.
Alexander, in line ten, doesn't seem to know how many gazes it would take her to see her straight. She also doesn't seem to know what she would do of her disfigured face. Though it is only an exaggeration of her sorrow, she paints a picture in the reader's mind of her having a disfigured face. In the third paragraph, the conflicting thoughts, “whispering cadences, shouts, moans, the quick delight of bodily pleasure”, are released as if they had freed themselves. Alexander describes those feelings as “multiple beings” locked in the journey of her body. The trapped feelings are represented as existing beings, representing her identity as separate entities, thus taking her individualism away. It makes her individuality seem fractured and divided.
She describes the cities and the small towns that she had lived since birth as “fragments of geography.” When Alexander describes the cities and towns she used to live as “fragments”, the word symbolize the jumbled masses of background information in her had that she couldn't find a way to form into her identity. By setting a negative tone in the passage, Alexander invites the reader to sympathize with her. In listing all the languages she had learned, the languages she had spoken in paragraph four through five and all the places she had lived, Alexander further demonstrates that traditional processes cannot encompass her being. Her past might be too complex for her to be able to decipher into a socially acceptable notion. In her mind, the identity of her past experience is shattered into far too many pieces to allow for it to be put back together in any recognizable fashion.
Meena Alexander let the readers know that peaceful memories exists in her mind when she mentions about her fantasies, “the kind that hit you in broad daylight,” and how she imagined being a “dutiful wife.” The mentioning of dutiful wife in her fantasy let readers know that there were memories that weren't tainted with feelings of displacement and segregation; how the happy memories did exist in the mind of Meena Alexander. In choosing to reveal these thoughts later in the story, she effectively shows her once human side to the readers and how her perfect human life seemed like a flower blossoming. The language forms a picture in the reader’s mind of how inner life of Alexander has always been coiled inside of her. Of how she still has blossoming life on the inside, but how her shattered identity are scattered are on the outside.
In the end, Alexander opens up to the readers on the reason why her identity is so fractured. She is very emotional in explaining her past experiences of having no stable when she was young. She explains how she has been “uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing.” Nothing is written in a way that it was the only thing she had. She only had nothing to connect with nothing. It is a powerful statement because of its subtle emphasis on the word “nothing.” She explains how the nothing she had in the beginning gave her a state of unbelonging. Alexander ends the story with how she used to be tormented and how she used to be worried sick until the thought connects with her parents. The shelter of memory draws her back with its “cool bedrooms and coiled verandas.” Alexander's shelter of memory is described in a way that it allures herself to it. The multiple migrations gave the author an unstable childhood and how the fractured identity got its origins from the instability at childhood.

Clough
Oct 10, 2008, 01:48 AM
Hi, spartan24018!

For one thing, and I don't know if this was your doing or the system here or your computer, things need to be separated into distinct paragraphs so that they can be read more easily. I have attempted to separate what you have posted here in order to facilitate that. I hope that I got it correct according to what you were intending.

The passage that you had to read is quoted as follows. If you inserted any of your own comments in it, it would be helpful to know that.



The passage we had to read:

The plate glass window that protected me inside the place of delicate teas and sharply flavored asparagus, tuna fish sandwiches with heapings of scallions and Line mint, glinted back oddly in my face. I caught my two (5) eyes crooked, face disfigured.

What would it mean for one such as I to pick up a mirror and try to see her face in it?

Night after night, I asked myself the question. What might it mean to look at myself straight, see myself?

(10) How many different gazes would that need? And what to do with the crookedness of flesh, thrown back at the eyes? The more I thought about it, the less sense any of it seemed to make. My voice splintered in my ears into a cacophony: whispering cadences, shouts, moans, the (15) quick delight of bodily pleasure, all rising up as if the condition of being fractured had freed the selves jammed into my skin, multiple beings locked into the journeys of one body. And what of all the cities and small towns and (20) villages I have lived in since birth: Allahabad, Tiruvella, Kozencheri, Pune, Delhi, Hyderabad, all within the boundaries of India; Khartoum in the Sudan; Nottingham in Britain; and now this island of Manhattan? How should I spell out these fragments of a broken (25) geography?

And what of all the languages compacted in my brain: Malayalam, my mother tongue, the language of first speech; Hindi which I learnt as a child; Arabic from my years in the Sudan—odd shards survive; (30) French; English? How would I map all this in a book of days? After all, my life did not fall into the narratives

I had been taught to honor, tales that closed back on themselves, as a snake might, swallowing its own ending: birth, an appropriate education — not too much, (35) not too little — an arranged marriage to a man of suitable birth and background, somewhere within the boundaries of India,

Sometimes in my fantasies, the kind that hit you in broad daylight, riding the subway, I have imagined (40) being a dutiful wife, my life perfect as a bud opening in the cool monsoon winds, then blossoming on its stalk on the gulmohar tree, petals dark red, falling onto the rich soil outside my mother's house in Tiruvella.

In the inner life coiled within me, I have sometimes longed to be a (45) bud on a tree, blooming in due season, the tree trunk well rooted in a sweet, perpetual place. But everything I think of is filled with ghosts, even this longing. This imagined past — what never was — is a choke hold. I sit here writing, for I know that time does not come (5O) fluid and whole into my trembling hands. All that is here comes piecemeal, though sometimes the joints have fallen into place miraculously, as if the heavens had opened and mango trees fruited in the rough asphalt of upper Broadway. (55) But questions persist: Where did I come from? How did I become what I am? How shall I start to write myself, configure my "I" as Other, image this life

I lead, here, now, in America? What could I ever be but a mass of faults, a fault mass? (60) I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary. It went like this: Fault: Deficiency, lack, want of something.. . Default, failing, neglect. A defect, imperfection, blameable quality or feature: a. in moral charac-(65) ter, b. in physical or intellectual constitution, appearance, structure or workmanship. From geology or mining: a dislocation or break in I the strata or vein. Examples: "Every coal field is ... split asunder, and broken into tiny (70) fragments by faults." (Anstead, Ancient World, 1847) "There are several kinds of fault e.g., faults of Dislocation; of Denudation; of Upheaval; etc." (Greasley, Glossary of Terms in Coal Mining, 1883) "Fragments of the adjoining (75) rocks mashed and jumbled together, in some cases bound into a solid mass called fault-stuff . or fault-rock." (Green, Physical Geography, 1877)

That's it, I thought. That's all I am, a woman cracked (SO) by multiple migrations. Uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing. Her words are all askew. And so I tormented myself on summer nights, and in the chill wind of autumn, tossing back and forth, worrying myself sick. Till my mind slipped back to my mother— (85) amma — she who gave birth to me, and to amma's amma, my veliammechi, grandmother Kunju, drawing me back into the darkness of the Tiruvella house with its cool • bedrooms and coiled verandas: the shelter of memory.

Clough
Oct 10, 2008, 02:02 AM
Below, is your essay as you wrote it, but separated into paragraphs.


My essay:

Meena Alexander distinguishes her fractured individualism by illustrating the confinement of the many fragments of her identity that do not seem to fit together; exhibiting a lack of contentment and a dejected tone. Alexander seems torn “night by night” by the idea to “pick up a mirror and to try to see herself in it.”

The “night by night” struggle personifies the inner conflict the author has to see herself straight. It gives us the sense of her lack of personal understanding; the first of many unique style of language Meena Alexander uses to delve into her scattered and uncertain identity.

Alexander, in line ten, doesn't seem to know how many gazes it would take her to see her straight. She also doesn't seem to know what she would do of her disfigured face. Though it is only an exaggeration of her sorrow, she paints a picture in the reader's mind of her having a disfigured face.

In the third paragraph, the conflicting thoughts, “whispering cadences, shouts, moans, the quick delight of bodily pleasure”, are released as if they had freed themselves. Alexander describes those feelings as “multiple beings” locked in the journey of her body. The trapped feelings are represented as existing beings, representing her identity as separate entities, thus taking her individualism away. It makes her individuality seem fractured and divided.

She describes the cities and the small towns that she had lived since birth as “fragments of geography.” When Alexander describes the cities and towns she used to live as “fragments”, the word symbolize the jumbled masses of background information in her had that she couldn't find a way to form into her identity. By setting a negative tone in the passage, Alexander invites the reader to sympathize with her.

In listing all the languages she had learned, the languages she had spoken in paragraph four through five and all the places she had lived, Alexander further demonstrates that traditional processes cannot encompass her being. Her past might be too complex for her to be able to decipher into a socially acceptable notion. In her mind, the identity of her past experience is shattered into far too many pieces to allow for it to be put back together in any recognizable fashion.

Meena Alexander let the readers know that peaceful memories exists in her mind when she mentions about her fantasies, “the kind that hit you in broad daylight,” and how she imagined being a “dutiful wife.” The mentioning of dutiful wife in her fantasy let readers know that there were memories that weren't tainted with feelings of displacement and segregation; how the happy memories did exist in the mind of Meena Alexander. In choosing to reveal these thoughts later in the story, she effectively shows her once human side to the readers and how her perfect human life seemed like a flower blossoming. The language forms a picture in the reader’s mind of how inner life of Alexander has always been coiled inside of her. Of how she still has blossoming life on the inside, but how her shattered identity are scattered are on the outside.

In the end, Alexander opens up to the readers on the reason why her identity is so fractured. She is very emotional in explaining her past experiences of having no stable when she was young. She explains how she has been “uprooted so many times she can connect nothing with nothing.” Nothing is written in a way that it was the only thing she had. She only had nothing to connect with nothing. It is a powerful statement because of its subtle emphasis on the word “nothing.” She explains how the nothing she had in the beginning gave her a state of unbelonging.

Alexander ends the story with how she used to be tormented and how she used to be worried sick until the thought connects with her parents. The shelter of memory draws her back with its “cool bedrooms and coiled verandas.” Alexander's shelter of memory is described in a way that it allures herself to it. The multiple migrations gave the author an unstable childhood and how the fractured identity got its origins from the instability at childhood.

Clough
Oct 10, 2008, 02:10 AM
Now, concerning it being an analysis essay, it would help to know the specific instructions that were given to you by your teacher as to what you need to do.

Thanks!

spartan24018
Oct 12, 2008, 04:47 PM
The original paper was separated into paragraphs, it just got messed up when I submitted on here.

Now we got that out of the way, the instructions were to write an analysis essay on how Alexander uses language to explore and represent her fractured identity.

Sorry, I hope it's still not confusing