444 Chapters
Medium 9780253356864

21. Molting

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

Our moulting season, like that of the fowls, must be a crisis in our lives. The loon retires to solitary ponds to spend it. Thus also the snake casts its slough, and the caterpillar its wormy coat, by an internal industry and expansion. (19)

The molting process Thoreau describes strikingly resembles his own Walden experiment: he retires to the pond to protect himself from public scrutiny of his radical social opinions and vocational diffidence. The image of the awkward molting fowl becomes a metaphor for Thoreau’s own transformation. Like the bird, whose plumage becomes irregular, Thoreau’s thoughts and feelings about his enterprise vacillated: indeed, his public attitudes, recorded in Walden, often contradict the private ones, confided to his journal, even when written concurrently. “I put the best face on the matter,” he admitted. Thoreau describes his own molting as a linear progression that begins with a revelation (the virtues of austerity), proceeds with a transformative journey (the retreat to the pond), and ends with the emergence of a new man, who, having cast off everything unnecessary, “can, like the old philosopher, walk out the gate empty-handed without anxiety” (20).

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Medium 9780892727605

Dana Hamlin, from Temple

Down East Books ePub

George Dennison

Dana Hamlin

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Medium 9780253018571

“Is Viola Davis in it?”

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

2013 WAS LAUDED as a “Renaissance Year” for black films within the Hollywood movie industry. Notably, the films 42, Fruitvale, The Butler, 12 Years a Slave, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom shared the quality of having an extraordinary black male character at the center of their stories. With characters ranging from an athlete, a victim of police brutality, a butler, a slave, and a political leader, the diversity of black male roles is telling. Each film set out to represent a real person: each opened with that most powerful of filmic premises, “Based on a True Story.” Each of these historical and male-dominated or male-centered stories is the kind of film that—for better or worse—informs audiences about important African American topics in place of classroom lectures, lesson plans, and, most importantly, books.

Each film also subtly sent the message that black men can play great and complex roles, while black women can continue to play marginalized roles as their girlfriends or wives. It is rarely, if ever, that we see a film in which a black woman is the central character and her husband or partner plays the sidekick or emotional supporter to her goals. Even in the imaginary world, there is no black Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games trilogy, who would heroically lead all of the men around her. We continue to only “see” black women in film when their images are peripheral—which is another way of saying that black women are barely seen in historical films.

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Medium 9781743603604

A Strange Place Called Home

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

Australia looks browner and flatter than I remembered; it’s a straw-coloured rug of grass dotted with hardy scrubs and unremarkable buildings. The lighting is violently harsh, as though it’s beaming down through a giant magnifying glass that belongs to a freckled kid with buck-teeth and a fetish for frying small beings. Between the airport and the car, the air has sucked the moisture from my skin and eyeballs, and I find myself longing for the humidity and verdant foliage of the tropics.

My friend’s voice rattles away in the driver’s seat and I ‘Ah-huh’ and ‘Oh really?’ on cue to appear interested in her string of gossip about acquaintances whose faces I have long forgotten, whose stories I've stopped caring about. My excitement from the plane has staled, replaced by a dread in the pit of my gut over one sinking realisation: I don’t belong here anymore.

‘Something wrong?’ my friend asks, taking her eyes off the road to study my expression with her all-knowing eyes.

I could never hide the truth from her, but still I attempt a lie. ‘Just tired,’ I say, not knowing how to articulate the grief of this homecoming without insulting her.

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Medium 9781927068304

Of Bulls and Baptisms

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub


I lock the Sunbird with a click of the key, check to see that I’ve parked far enough off the road, and turn toward the fence. Armed with a water bottle and a can of mosquito spray in a yellow plastic shopping bag, I part the barbed wire strands like this — there, I made it without ripping the back of my shirt or skewering my crotch — and walk into the heat along a scraggy downhill path in search of the old baptismal site, with swarms of mosquitoes coming toward me and as many grasshoppers jumping out of the way.

The remains of an old log barn sag there off to the right, walls slumped and half overgrown, roof long decomposed. I don’t remember it there forty years ago, when I was fourteen at the time of my washing; but I recall people driving down in their cars, the community coming to see the latest batch of teenagers doused in the river. Once before I was baptized I was here with my cousin to go fishing. We made our way gingerly around a herd of cows overseen by a malevolent old bull, but we didn’t catch any fish, and had to sneak back up again, cripes I hope there’s no bull here now. I look around and estimate my chances, now at mid-life, of outrunning a bull and climbing a tree in front of a pair of tapered horns.

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