Stop the Comcast takeover.

Don’t let Comcast take over half of America’s Internet. Tell Congress & @FCC to #StoptheTakeover”

via Stop the Comcast takeover..


Stop the Comcast takeover.

Don’t let Comcast take over half of America’s Internet. Tell Congress & @FCC to #StoptheTakeover”

via Stop the Comcast takeover..

Growing into Writing

Carla Bamesberger


Envisioning Assignment




Growing into Writing

          Everyone develops a writing identity through their experiences with writing. Whether someone thinks they don’t like writing, or writing is their life, everyone has a writing identity. Many people’s writing identities come from school and how they experienced writing in an academic capacity.  There are students who don’t like writing because the essays they write don’t relate to them and they struggle to even write in the right format. They feel that there is no room for themselves in the writing that they do. At the same time, there are students who feel like they jam-pack their essays with their opinions about the text or topic they are dealing with and love writing. Some students learn how to write high-scoring papers according to a set of standards and rules, but don’t feel like they will write beyond school because there’s no reason to write literary analysis papers in the real world.

            My experience with school was similar to all three of these. I was a person who was determined to become some sort of story writer (whether it was being a novelist, or a graphic novel or Manga artist). Despite this, I didn’t think there was a relation between the kinds of writing I did in school, and the writing I planned on doing in my professional life. If it hadn’t been for my passion for the creative writing aspect, I might have given up on writing altogether because I struggled with it.
















           When I first wanted to become an English teacher, it was with the end goal of teaching creative writing. I knew that I needed to learn how to teach English first, because schools would probably not hire me as just a creative writing teacher. I was nervous because I remembered my experiences with English class, and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to meet the same level of excellence that English teachers were expected to. 

         Fortunately, my first experiences with getting learners interested in writing came from a class with Dr. Garcia where we largely explored genre. We read Cathy Fleischer and Sarah Andrew-Vaughan’s Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone, and explored genre through first hand experience with creating our own genre projects with little guideline other than writing about something we believed in and offering it to a specific audience.

         This experience taught me a lot about writing instruction and how to give students experience with new genres while giving them time to practice writing. I immediately began brainstorming ways I might bring the same practices into my own classroom some day.






       I want to give my students time to explore genres, discuss what they can be used for, and discover how to write within various genres through their experiences with the texts we bring into the classroom. Naturally, these will be used to explore many important topics. Ideally, our topics will relate to student lives and the texts we read in class.

      Having my students write to explore genres is just one practice that I will use in my classrooms. Through works by authors like Keith Polette and Linda Christensen, I’ve learned how to use poetry and stories to teach writing elements and dynamics. I’ve seen poetry used as a way to learn the parts of speech while also exploring complex and important topics that students can relate to. I’ve seen short stories highlighted in multiple colors so that students could identify characterization, dialogue, action, and descriptive language and examine how it works to create the story. I’ve seen essays used to explore topics in students’ lives and put feelings on paper.

      If I can teach students to be able to use their writing to create products that can suit their needs no matter what they are working on, I feel I have succeeded as a teacher. I want them to be able to use writing to reach various audiences and get their thoughts and ideas out there. They are brilliant people, each with their own ideas, and I don’t want them to keep their ideas inside because they don’t know how to reach an audience. I don’t want them thinking that their ideas are not worth writing about either.




         That is the kind of writing teacher I want to be.





       And that is the type of writers I want my students to be as they leave my class at the end of the year.



I’ve noticed that my essays are cropping up on things like “free” without my permission. I’m all down with sharing, but you need to attribute a work to it’s author, and maybe even be plight by asking for said authors permission. Please do not use my work without doing these things. It doesn’t even need to be a formal request, just a quick “hey there, I’d like to use your work for blah blah blah. May I please?”
I do understand that some people are shy about asking permission, or might want to use it for something brief like an example of blah blah blah. Knowing this, here’s creative commons. Though it is still polite to ask.

<img alt=”Creative Commons License” style=”border-width:0″ src=”×31.png” />
This work by Carla Vangrove is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

(needless to say, I could not quite figure out how to turn that into an image)

New Tori Yama Literary Journal: Young Adult Fantasy Literature and Diversity


I just put the finishing touches on the second issue of my imaginary web journal for yet another class. This time, I wrote articles for my young adult literature class. The theme of this journal is how young adult fantasy literature represents diversity.





Hurting and Helping Communities


When Chick-Fil-A day came around, I felt pretty down about the whole thing. I felt bad that the governors had spoken out against a man’s free speech, but I also felt bad that most of the people visiting the establishment probably weren’t there to defend our first amendment. My coworker, who I knew to be against the GLBTQI community as a whole, defended the man by adding that the company had never experienced a lawsuit for discriminating against GLBTQI people during the hiring process. I didn’t mention to him that most states don’t consider that illegal, or that a person doesn’t have to come out right and say they didn’t hire someone because they looked gay. Instead I listened to the radio announcer rave about how successful the day had been, and I watched customers coming into the gift shop wearing Chick-Fil-A shirts and drinking from styrofoam to-go cups. A burning settled in my stomach each time a person came up to my register, and I couldn’t help but think about how each person had no idea that I am part of the GLBTQI community as they made their purchases and walked out the door. For the first time in my life, I wondered how they each might have reacted. 


A few days later, I saw a church sign that broke my heart more than hearing about what a resounding success Chick-Fil-A day was. The sign read “I sure wish the lines for volunteering at the soup kitchen were as long as the ones for Chick-Fil-A.” This sign made me think. Are people more likely to band together to harm a community they don’t like than they are to band together to help a community that is already desperately hurting? This got me thinking more. How many of the GLBTQI community stood by and felt the blow like I did, while others stood up in protests that didn’t put a damper on Chick-Fil-A day?

What if, instead of protesting, we had all banded together to do something positive for the community around us rather than standing around protesting a protest? I don’t know where to start, but if there is ever a protest like the Chick-Fil-A day again, I want to urge the GLBTQI community to fight back in a different way. While protesters are rallying to bring harm to a community, our own community can rise up and make a difference for other people who are in need. Demonstrate who we are by showing that we are a benefit to society. Who knows where a bit of kindness in the face of hostility can lead. I, for one, believe it can go far.



Speak Up for Change


While working on Pikes Peak with Aramark over the summer, I encountered a man who thought he knew the right answer to everything. I didn’t agree with a lot of what he said, which didn’t necessarily make it wrong, it just meant that I didn’t think that a lack of oxygen in Earth’s past made the dinosaurs impossible or that it’s a waste of money to provide women with birth control because it encourages sexually prolific behavior and prevents procreation. I quit working there a few months ago because school started up again. For the most part, I haven’t payed much mind since then to the things he seemed to feel he always had to say. A few things he said to me, however, have managed to resurface now and then and buzz around my entire being like coffee injected directly into my bloodstream.

Today, these things popped back up with a vengeance. I guess it’s hard to forget when someone tells you that gay men live shorter lives than straight men, or that gay men have three times as many sexual partners in a lifetime as straight men. But more than any of these “facts” he somehow felt the need to present to me, I can’t forget when he said that our schools are “teaching children about homosexuality in a positive light, leaving out the true information that could encourage them to make the right decision.” I didn’t say anything to him when he told me that, and I regret it every day. The only thing I stood up and said out loud was when he thought homosexuality was still recognized as a psychological illness. I spoke up to tell him it had been overturned. What did I have to lose in telling him my own opinions when he clearly felt it was necessary to tell me his without being prompted? I still don’t have an answer.

If I could go back, I would have a few things to say. First, I would ask him what made him choose to be straight. Clearly, it is a choice. If kids choose to be gay, reason stands that they also choose to be straight, right? But it’s not as simple as that. Why would kids choose to be exiled from their families, discriminated against by society, and risk harassment and abuse from the world around them every day when they can choose a route that is considered normal? I can tell you, I didn’t make up my mind one day to have a sexuality I don’t have a name for so that nobody would know what I am. My aunt probably didn’t one day say that she just didn’t want to be attracted to anyone and became asexual. My best friend didn’t decide it would be a hoot to be ignored by his family for several years after he came out to them as gay.

The only choice there is in sexuality is choosing whether or not you are going to pretend to be something you are not. Sure, there may be someone out there who chose to “be” gay. But that person isn’t necessarily gay. There are also people who choose to “be” straight, but aren’t really straight either. Repression is a painful thing. No good can come of repression. One could even argue that repression is a type of psychological illness. Pretending you are something that you are not does more harm than good. In some cases, it may lead to low self-esteem, self-harm, emotional or physical abuse of self or others, and even suicide. Making a choice to cover up a vital part of yourself for the sake of seeming like someone else to society is not a solution, it is a way of hiding that creates more problems than it solves. That is why organizations like LAMBDA and Gay-Straight alliances are popping up. They want to get the word out there that nobody should have to hide, that it’s ok to be yourself even in a world of judgements.

I never told that man the pain I felt at what he said about the gay community. I never corrected him, or tried to make him see things through a different perspective. Looking back, I guess I just didn’t want to put energy into what I considered to be a lost cause. I didn’t think anything I had to say would have changed his mind at all, so why bother? Clearly, he is fine going through life with old information that sounds like it came from something conducted during the start of the AIDs crisis when AIDs was known as a gay disease. Even as I was thinking it back then, I knew I would be ashamed of not at least trying even in a situation where I knew it was likely that nothing would change.

If every person in history who suspected nothing would change held their tongue, our society would be a much different place than it is today. What would things look like if Martin Luther King Jr. or Mary wollstonecraft had held their tongues back in the day? That is why we, as a community, must stand together and hold strong. We can’t sit back and feel sorry for ourselves. We can’t listen while people demean us and communities around us. We can’t complain about people’s lack of coexisting. We must fight for ourselves by participating in the world around us and actively using our voices to make ourselves heard.


Carla Vangrove






















Hiroki stood in the middle of the hallway, numbly staring ahead at nothing in particular. Uchida sensei’s retreating footsteps echoed in the quiet halls, interrupted now and then by the sound of a classroom door sliding shut, or a whistle blowing out on the sports field.

“I’m sorry, Kazuhaya-kun,” he could still hear the phantom echoes of their conversation like the reverberating rumble of a subway train as it pulled away from the platform. “Kyoto University simply will not take you seriously with the way you present yourself now. You need to grow out of this childishness. When you do, I will write you a recommendation.”

He drew in a deep breath, trying to shake off the sting of his teacher’s words.

Running a trembling hand through his long, black hair to move it back out of his face a bit, Hiroki decided he would skip English Club. The vice president could handle things in his absence. Occasionally, Hiroki wondered what he found so appealing about studying English. Unlike Japanese, English used gendered pronouns.

He went downstairs, where he switched indoor shoes for his sneakers, and retrieved his coat, short leather gloves, and scarf from his locker. The school’s dress code prevented him from wearing these things on weekdays, but it didn’t stop him from bringing them. No one said he had to walk around town in his uniform.

A nagging urge to leave without putting the garments on tugged at the edge of his consciousness.

The weather outside was too warm even for a jacket, he thought with a frown as he pulled the bulky coat on over his navy blue uniform and fastened the buttons. For a moment, Hiroki considered leaving the purple-and-blue striped scarf off, but decided suffering through the heat in his coat wouldn’t be worth it if he only put half-effort into his attire.

Three girls in athletic uniform passed him just outside the doorway carrying boxes of gym equipment. He heard one of them whisper a familiar question to her companions. His mother had called it a shameful question, but Hiroki didn’t mind. He never cared to answer, but he didn’t mind it.

“Was that a boy, or a girl?”


When he arrived home, his father came out of the kitchen with a worried look. “You’re home early. Is everything alright?”

“Yes,” Hiroki managed, giving a nod as he slipped off his shoes in the entryway. He hoped his father understood. He wasn’t ready to talk about it.

Up stares, Hiroki studied himself in the bathroom mirror. Blue-grey eyes stared back at him from under a layer of makeup. Thick rectangle-framed glasses shielded his eyes from stray strands of hair that were just long enough not to call a proper boy’s cut, and just short enough not to be a girl’s. Androgynous. What he wanted others to see when they looked at him. Today, he could only see layers of costume, he saw himself through Uchida sensei’s eyes.

Hiroki carefully set his glasses aside and wiped away his makeup. When he finished, he looked again at the person reflected in the mirror. The broken remnants of eyeliner rimmed his eyes, tinged pink around the edges from rubbing a bit too hard. Somehow, the face in the mirror seemed diminished, like a snowman standing in a sunny yard. The image didn’t suit him.

He swallowed, trying to fight the tightening in his throat. Desperately, he pulled the scarf off and threw it to the floor for extra breathing room. There were enough people like him who chose not to conform to aesthetic gender norms. Kyoto University didn’t care what their students looked like. All that mattered was that their students had high academic achievements.

After supporting him through years of hard work, encouraging him to push his studies as far as they would go, Uchida sensei wasn’t willing to write a recommendation. He thought Uchida sensei would see past his unconventional appearance to the academic potential he always praised Hiroki for having. Maybe it was all just a show.

There wouldn’t be a problem if he had just given in to his mother’s wishes in the first place. Instead, he had allowed his father to stand up for him. The man was surprisingly resilient. He stuck by his son even as he watched his wife walk out the door for the last time. They hadn’t heard from her since.

His father cleared his throat in the doorway to announce his presence.

Hiroki didn’t turn around, but nodded to acknowledge his father. Silence hung on the air like mist. Hiroki waited for his father to speak or leave, he knew his father was waiting for an explanation. He still didn’t feel ready to talk, so he waited. It wasn’t that the man wouldn’t understand. Hiroki just didn’t know what to say yet.

His father didn’t speak, but he didn’t leave either.

The silent mist settled in piles around them. Its oppressive weight grew with each new layer until Hiroki felt he couldn’t take it anymore. Finally, he spoke.

“What if mom was right?” he said to the man in the mirror leaning against the wooden door frame.

Hiroki’s father caught his gaze in the mirror and held it firmly. “Do you think she was?”


Maya leaned back in the grass and stared up at the leaves fluttering on twiggy limbs above them. “That’s why you didn’t make it to club. Huh.”

Hiroki watched her from where he sat against the base of the scrawny tree. Her eyes narrowed, and she glared at the sky. Even with anger knitting her delicate brow, her face looked elegant.

Their bento boxes sat off to the side, half eaten and forgotten.

A lite breeze blew in to fill the space between them. It played with Maya’s short hair, which she and Hiroki had dyed pink when she grew tired of being called “Gaijin” walking down the halls at school. If people were going to speak badly of her, she’d said, she wanted to give them a reason to do it. It gave her the upper hand if she had control over the snarky comments. Hiroki often wondered if the piercings rimming the edges of her ears served a similar purpose.

Finally, the English club vice-president spoke. “Can’t you ask anyone else?”

“No,” he had given the idea some consideration already. “I need a recommendation so that I can get into the English program.” Uchida sensei was the only one who taught English at their school.

“And you’re sure you can’t go somewhere else?”

Hiroki shook his head. He had told her before about Kyoto University’s fast-track program. All second year English students entered into working positions as part of their curriculum. Most of them even kept the job after graduation. He didn’t want to mention that his mother had told him he wouldn’t make it to a prestigious university like Kyoto University the way he was. He wanted to prove her wrong.

“I know!” Maya bolted up, eyes brimming with an enthusiasm that came seemingly from nowhere. When she’d first come to Japan, Maya’s outbursts startled Hiroki and their classmates. Now, everyone came to expect them on a regular basis. “What if my mom wrote you a letter? Who better to say you excel in English than an American?”

Maya was an exchange student, but her mother visited Japan enough on business that it seemed like she lived there too. She often took time away from work to explore the surrounding area with them, to get familiar with the local product demand, she claimed.

Hiroki couldn’t help but smile as he shook his head. Even if her solutions usually didn’t work, Maya always had something to say. Sometimes it was a bit overwhelming. Still, he felt sorry for the people she never said anything to. She made a point not to talk to the people she hated.

Maya’s excitement faded from her face almost as quickly as it had come. She flopped down in the grass, eyes scrutinizing the tree once more as if she could peel away layers of bark and find the answer.

“What are you going to do?”

Hiroki held a few strands of his long-short hair out in front of him so that he could see it. “Maybe it’s time to change.” His heart wasn’t in the statement, but somehow he didn’t want to find another solution. He’d already tried doing things his own way once. Every day, some part of him still regretted his decision.

“Hm,” Maya sat up and stacked the trays of her bento box back on top of one another. “The bell’s about to ring,” she said simply, getting to her feet.

Only moments later, the bell did ring, announcing the end of lunch.

Hiroki watched Maya walk away without a look back to see if he was coming. He wasn’t sure what kind of response he’d expected from her, but this wasn’t it.


That night, Hiroki dreamed about his mother.

She stood with her arms crossed in a grassy field, the wind pulling at her long strawberry hair. A burnt orange stained the sky, casting a strange glow over the landscape.

Hiroki hung around the edge of the field, unable to step across the concrete sidewalk’s border.

His mother looked in his direction, a serious expression turning down the edges of her lipstick-coated lips. Then, her expression melted into a warm smile. She held out her arms toward him.

From the other side of the sidewalk’s border, Hiroki watched himself race into his mother’s embrace. The other self buried his face into the shoulder of her pink blouse. They stood, locked in an embrace that Hiroki thought might never end. He could see through the other Hiroki.

“Thank goodness,” he heard his mother whisper, and he realized with a jolt that her glaring eyes were on him. There was a laughing iciness in her gaze. Without looking away, Hiroki’s mother set firm hands on his other self’s waif-like shoulders and turned him around.

Hiroki gasped. His ghostly double had a mirror for a face. His reflection stared back at him, broken specks of mascara and a slight redness under each eye from rubbing too hard. The reflection had short hair that didn’t suit him.

“It’s better this way,” his mother said, suddenly behind Hiroki on the sidewalk. She extended a hand toward him, giving him a questioning but expectant look.

Hiroki moved to grab ahold of her hand, but hesitated. He glanced back at the other Hiroki still standing out in the field. His reflection appeared almost sickly with no color in his cheeks.

His mother cleared her throat, bringing his attention back to her. He realized she was rapidly drifting away from him, hand still outstretched. Hiroki ran, reaching for his mother’s hand.

“You’ll never make it as you are,” her voice seemed to come from all directions.

The disruptive buzzing of an alarm clock woke him. He never saw if he made it.


Students chatted among themselves the next morning as they waited for class to begin. Hiroki sat at his desk, reviewing a page of notes for an exam he had later in the day. The review was unnecessary, but it gave him a reason to keep his eyes down. He felt a bit strange without makeup.

His father always left for work before he got up, sparing him the need to explain his abrupt change of style.

The classroom door slid open. A slight hush fell over the room as someone stepped inside.

“It’s changed,” he heard a girl whisper behind him.

A flyer printed both in Japanese and English swooped down and covered his notes. When he looked up, Hiroki stared in disbelief at Maya as she moved to the desk next to him. Short blond hair framed her face, a few stray strands hung over one eye.

“I thought you hated it blond,” Hiroki said, observing the striking lack of jewelry adorning her ears.

Maya shrugged. “It was time for a change.” She was quiet for a moment, then motioned to the colored flyer she’d dropped on his desk. “Mom says it’s a good program.”

Hiroki looked down at the flyer. The words Study Abroad at Brooklyn University, New York! glared back at him in bold, green letters. There were photos depicting the campus and students taking advantage of resources offered by the school. The flyer also offered other information, including a list of degree programs. Someone had circled English as a Second Language with a red marker.

Before he had a chance to ask any questions, their sensei walked in. As they all rose and bowed, Hiroki watched his friend’s expression through the corner of his eyes. She stared straight ahead.


During lunch, Maya asked Hiroki what he thought about her newest idea. He wasn’t sure about it.

“Even if I can use a recommendation from any sensei, it isn’t Kyoto University,” he said. “Besides, I can’t just run away from my problems.”

Maya frowned. “You wouldn’t be running. You’d be controlling the situation,” a storm boiled in her eyes. “If Uchida sensei refuses to write you a recommendation, that’s his problem, but it doesn’t have to be yours too.”

They held one another’s gaze, exchanging silent words. Hiroki thought he saw hurt in her eyes, under a layer of anger. After a while, he turned his eyes away.

“It’s not like this is the first time someone’s disapproved of your looks,” Maya huffed. “I thought you were more resilient than this.”

Maya rose to her feet and walked away, leaving the atmosphere between them charged with an energy Hiroki wasn’t sure how to calm.


Hiroki had tucked the flyer into his bag during his other classes and let it slip to the back of his mind. Maya didn’t meet him by their lockers like she usually did after classes concluded for the day. He left without getting a chance to talk to her.

Once home, he pulled the flyer out and contemplated the colorful information. The bottom had a web address printed in bold letters next to text telling him to find more information online.

Deciding it wouldn’t hurt to at least take a look, Hiroki sat down at the desktop computer in his father’s office and navigated to the study abroad program’s website. Just like Maya’s mother had said, it seemed like a good program. It even offered students work-study positions relevant to their fields of study.

Before long, he found himself staring at a glaringly blank application page. The directions at the top told him to print and fill out the application and included a mailing address to send it to.

He shook his head. What was he doing? He had worked too hard to abandon Kyoto University. It occurred to him that his mother would never know if he went or not, but letting her biting words fulfill themselves seemed like self-betrayal.


Hiroki jumped. He hastily minimized the application webpage and spun around in the office chair to face his father.

The man wore a puzzled frown. “Is everything alright?”

Hiroki nodded. “I thought I’d do some research for a paper,” he lied half-heartedly. He wondered how long his father had been standing there.

His father was silent for a few moments. Hiroki worried that he didn’t believe the lie, that maybe he’d been standing there the whole time. Finally, he spoke. “I’ve been calling you for a while now. Dinner’s ready.”

“Oh,” Hiroki felt relieved. “I’ll be right there.”

Despite the dismissal, his father lingered in the doorway. Hiroki couldn’t reopen the webpage with him standing there. He didn’t want to invite questions yet. Instead, he stood to go to dinner.

“I thought about what you said the other day,” his father said as Hiroki passed him in the doorway.

Hiroki didn’t respond, although he paused.

“Whether someone is right or not depends on who’s listening.”


By morning, Hiroki had made up his mind. He would go talk to Uchida sensei about that recommendation.

When he came downstairs, he found a large yellow postal envelope on the counter. Written in his father’s neat handwriting was the address of the university in Brooklyn. A post-it note stuck to the front read ‘Needs recommendation letter’. He felt embarrassed, wondering how his father had found the application. He thought he cleared the computer’s history before going to bed.

Not wanting to seem ungrateful, Hiroki tucked it into his bag before he left for school.


Maya sat near the school gate when he arrived. She barely glanced up at him as he approached.

“I’ve made up my mind,” he said. “I’m going to talk to Uchida sensei again about that recommendation.”

A look that Hiroki couldn’t quite categorize flashed across her face. Anger? Sorrow? In the next instance, it was gone, replaced by a blank stare.

“It’s not like I’ll have to change forever,” he wasn’t sure if the justification was more for Maya, or himself. “After we graduate I can go back to looking however I want.”

He wished she’d say something, even something about being disappointed in him if she couldn’t be happy for him. She simply nodded, keeping her eyes on the ground in front of her.

He realized it was pointless to stand around waiting for her to speak. All he could do was hope her curtain of silence wouldn’t hold up for long.

A strange sense of abandonment settled around him as he walked away. Even though Maya was unwilling to support him, he couldn’t help feeling that he was abandoning her. He stole a look back over his shoulder at her. Sitting in the grass, Maya looked like a child’s doll forgotten on the playground. Her eyes stayed fixed on the ground, betraying nothing. Not even anger.

She would come around, he decided, making his way to Uchida sensei’s office.

The door was closed. Hiroki realized his hands were shaking as he went to knock. He drew in a slow, calming breath. Maybe no one was in the office, he hoped. Uchida sensei’s voice called from inside telling him to enter when he finally did knock.

Uchida sensei sat at his desk grading papers. He looked up when Hiroki walked in.

Hiroki tried not to squirm as Uchida sensei’s scrutinizing gaze passed over him as if studying a specimen.

“Are you going to be serious about your studies, Kazuhaya-kun?” The skepticism in his tone was almost palpable. “I will not tarnish this school’s good reputation.”

“I—“ the words stuck in his throat so that he had to nod instead of speaking.

Uchida sensei leaned back in his chair and loosely steepled his fingers together. The look on his face was more suited to a man who had just successfully conned someone into signing a soul-binding contract than an educator. The comparison sent a chill through Hiroki. “Do you have a resume with you?”

“I do,” Hiroki reached into his bag and froze when his hand encountered a thick envelope. He had forgotten the study abroad application was in there. His father’s words about the relativity of being right came unbidden to his mind, and he found himself wondering who was right in this situation.

Blue-grey eyes cast about the office, desperately searching for some sort of visual to firm up his rapidly dissolving resolve. They came at least to a framed painting hung by the window. In front of the blue and white painted birds, a translucent reflection looked out with eyes so faint they appeared empty.  The emptiness in those eyes startled him. They reminded him of Maya, the way she looked out in front of the school gate. Even if he could go back to androgyny after graduation in a few months, he would never be able to erase the time spent reminding Uchida sensei everyday of who was right. Or the time spent showing Maya she was wrong. Was Kyoto University worth it?

“Kazuhaya-kun?” Uchida sensei’s voice snapped Hiroki back to the present. The man looked him over with concern. “You’re resume?”

Hiroki withdrew his hand from the bag. Uchida sensei looked puzzled when Hiroki didn’t produce a resume for him.

“Sensei, thank you,” Hiroki bowed and exited the office without explanation.

He hurried to his homeroom class and slid open the door. Maya sat at a desk, abnormally quiet and still staring down at nothing in particular.

Hiroki stopped in front of her desk and dropped the envelope in front of her. She jumped, startled eyes flying up to meet his.

In response, Hiroki clapped his hands in front of his face as if in prayer. “Can I still ask your mother for a recommendation?”

Surprise gave way to a sly smile. “Hm, I don’t know about that,” Maya studied the envelope with exaggerated interest. “Mom doesn’t write letters for just anyone.”

Hiroki took his seat in the desk next to Maya. “That’s a relief.”









平生の日として、日本の学校は数学とか科学とか音楽とか美術学などうの授業がある(。アメリカにもそのような授業もある。しかし、日本とアメリカの教育課程と比べると、日本は試験のために色々な大切な 物を教える。学生として、試験は学生の奮闘努力と知性を現す。例えば、高校と大学に入るために、入学試験でよい点を取る必要がある。アメリカの学校も多く難しい試験があるけど、学生の意見を評す論文とかプロジェクトとかクラスディスカションの強意もある。大学に入るために、自分のオピニオンと知識の論文を書く必要がある。



授業の中に自分の意見を考えない場合、実生活にも自分の特殊考えで問題を解くことが出来ない。いむらひろうさんは「Science education in Japan」という記事で日本の教師の策は経済のために、学生の成績平均年齢を早く上げることだったといった(。それはいいけど、学生達は創造性で科目を探る時間が無い。実生活前に学生達は創造性を科目を探しなければならない。


日本の学校はアメリカや英国と同じような試験と学生の考えにバランスを取ればとるほど、学校の後で社会問題と仕事である問題の答えを考えることが出来る。実生活は試験がない。その上、学生達は学校で習った情報を忘れることがある。その物を和することがしたいというわけじゃない。実は、卒業後でその事実の半は時々応用がない。社会で試験のような時局がない。創造性を中心して教育課程があれば、学生達はその事実を談論で使えるようになるはずだ。学生達は学校で生活に関係がある一報を習われば習うほど、どこparticle行っても、何any kind of仕事をしても、学校で習った一報を使えることがある。












“カリキュラム”, 東京高校学校,, 2012年2月14日1時アクセス



“学校長挨拶”, 県立千葉高, , 2012年2月14日2時30分アクセス


Bronson, Po; Merryman, Ashley (2010), “The Creativity Crisis”, The Daily Beast, 2010年7  月10日4時間更新、2012年3月18日4時45分アクセス


Education in Japan,, 2012年1月20日4 時20分アクセス


“Kanagawa University High School Step Inside”, Kids Web Japan,, 2012年2月12日3時13分アクセス


Imura, Hiroo (1996),“Science Education in Japan”, Science Magazine,, 1996年10月4日更新、2012年1月 20日3時15分アクセス



村田晃,「創造性を育てるには、子供に主体性を」、マイベストプロ、、2010年更新2012年2月12日10時10分ア     クセス





The Conventions of Word-Play

Carla Vangrove

E332 002

Annotations Essay


The Conventions of Word-Play

The aspect that I find most compelling in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things is Roy’s unique use of the English language and the many purposes it serves. Roy plays with not only the spelling and sounds of words, but also the structures of the English language. Murari Prasad discusses many of the forms that Roy’s language play takes and how various forms and structures Roy uses serve to not only transform the English language, but also to lend to the novel’s plot and themes in his article “The Issue of Linguistic Competence: Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things.” The structures that Prasad lists in his article are expanded on in an article called “The Horizon in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy: A Poetics of Lines” by Elsa Sacksick. In her article, Sacksick delves deeply into these structures and identifies not only what they do for the novel’s themes, but also says that Roy’s use of language changes the way that people can think about English. Albert Butros adds to this idea in his article “The English Language & Non Native Writers of Fiction,” when he says that Roy’s novel uses English in a unique manner that has the potential to add to the language itself outside of the novel. In this essay, I will explore the ways in which Roy uses unusual capital letters, and backwards words or phrases for the purpose of bringing out important themes.

According to Prasad, some people argue that Roy’s novel displays a misuse of the English language that indicates that Roy was trying to take the English language and fit her own experiences inside of it. Prasad counters these claims, saying that “Roy’s linguistic units and stylistic features in the novel are fairly consistent,” indicating that she chose her devices carefully and wove them into her book with purpose (Prasad 115). He goes on to say that “the central theme undergirding the story has been articulated with efficient and elegant use of language” as he lays out the different ways in which Roy uses “nuanced lexical verbs” and “stand-up capitals” trough the novel (Prasad 118). Prasad cites the scene in the police station where Rahel reads the acrostic POLICE backwards as an example of important “letter-based play,” which he claims is used to emphasize “the inexplicable insolence of Inspector Thomas Matthew” by implying that the officer displays characteristics that conflict with the meaning of POLICE in the novel’s context (Prasad 129).

Prada’ claim that letter-play is significant throughout the novel is an accurate observation. This letter-play can be seen in subtle forms that add to individual character identities, or it can be found in more reaching instances that impact the novel’s themes. Another example of this technique occurs in the end of chapter 8, when Kochu Maria observes Rahel and Sophie Mol playing on the beach. She observes two little girls playing, “One Loved. One Loved a Little Less,” which is written with deliberate capitalization in abnormal places (Roy 177). Sophie is the loved one, and Rahel is the one who is not as loved. Roy uses these capitals to turn these statements into titles in order to show the Love Laws (in this case, how much a mother like Ammu should love her daughter) and how these laws hang labels over the heads of individuals.

Prada also claims that Roy makes the language her own, which causes her novel and its language use to be distinctly Indian in nature. Butros disagrees in his article when he writes that Roy’s use of language could have come from any native speaker of English, making her novel less Indian than it could be. He concedes that the novel includes references to Indian culture,  but that “these are made to serve the universal aspect of the theme, not to bring out the Indian character of the text” that separates works written by native English speakers from those written by indian writers (Butros 80). Butros’s argument does not consider, however, the ways in which Roy’s letter-play is used to present specifically Indian themes from the novel in manners that might not be as successful in a work written by a native English speaker.

Throughout The God of Small Things, overarching themes and little nuances (which hold their own weight in the overall thematic importance of small events and small characteristics carrying great importance) are written with capital letters that emphasize them, with words crammed together into one another, and with strange spellings. These lines serve to make the novel uniquely Indian by drawing attention to the fluidity of the English language when used by someone who has a different experience of language than a native speaker might. When Roy uses words like “getting-outedness” to describe the action of stepping out of a car, or “Nalmost blond” to describe hair, she brings the reader’s attention back to the Indian-ness of the novel (Roy 164-167).

Capitalization choices made by Roy also bring out the novel’s Indian nature by nominalizing entire sentences and often times turning words into proper nouns in a manner that suggests that the English being used is being looked at through the grammar rules of another language. In chapter 10, when Rahel lays down with her mother for a “Gnap,” Roy brings the atmosphere around them to life when she describes that “the Air was Alert and Bright and Hot” (Roy 191). Roy’s use of capital letters in this scene allows her to set the mood in a single line by giving it a powerful presence as though it was a character itself, breaking the rules of English that say what is and isn’t a proper noun as if she was speaking her own language. This serves as a reminder that the novel and its language belong to a non-native English speaker who does not necessarily have to conform to the rules of the language as strictly as a native speaker might.

Sacksick suggests that Roy’s language play also serves the purpose of exploring “the malleability of the English language from its inside cracks” by showing the manners in which the language can be reshaped. Roy’s work blurs the boundary between proper and improper use of the English language by consistently using structures in her own ways to perpetuate her themes. Roy’s use of hyphenated words, capital letters that turn ordinary words into subjects, and repurposing words by changing their forms (such as when Estha says that he feels “vomety” during The Sound of Music) shows that the English language does not necessarily work in one fixed way. The language can be changed and molded to suit the needs of the novel. Sacksick also discusses the way in which this malleability of language is used to bring out the theme of classification and how characters try to traverse these categories.

An example of the fluidity of English highlighting the theme of categorization and not fitting into it can be found in chapter 2 when Miss Mitten is first introduced. Miss mitten is a woman who feels that there is only one right way to speak English, and when the twins begin reading backwards Miss Mitten says that “she had seen Satan in their eyes” and insists that they need to speak properly (Roy 58). The twins take this category that Miss Mitten has bestowed on them and say it backwards, “nataS ni rieth seye,” which serves to show that their new title is not as solid as Miss Mitten would have liked (Roy 58). By repeating Miss Mitten’s words backwards, the twins show that her words have no sway over them, they can create their own labels like the banana jellyjam mentioned throughout other sections of the novel.

Roy’s letter and word play also serves the purpose of exploring the theme of seemingly small things as having importance. Using capital letters in abnormal words, Roy places emphasis on big and small things alike in order to give them emphasis in the moment. Using this method, she gives emphasis to big concepts like “Age and Death” and puts them on the same level of significance as small things like “Beautiful Ugly Toads” or “Gnap[s]” or other small things found in every chapter. The most direct example of this use of capitaliztion occurs in chapter 1, when the “Big God” and the “Small God” come together as representations of Pappachi’s large societal power and dominance verses Mammachi’s lack of power (Roy 20). Here, the Small God and the Big God both have their names equally capitalized, as if they both have their own significance.

In some cases, Roy smashes words together to bring attention to the smallness of individual things. In the station scene in chapter 17, Roy creates words like “stationsounds” and “CocaColaFantaicecreamrosemilk” by smashing words together (Roy 284). In doing so, Roy suggests that each of these things going on or existing in the train station are too small as individual things to matter. By combining them into one word, however, Roy shows that each of these small things contributes to the environment around Estha and his family. Every component of the train station is small, but when put together they create the station where Ammu will leave Estha for the final time.

In this same scene, Roy changes the forms of multiple words to make unusual verbs that flow together to make for a rapid read. When the crowd in the station is described as “Scurrying hurrying buying selling luggage trundling porter paying children shitting people spitting coming going begging bargaining reservation-checking,” Roy makes it seem as though the station is moving quickly around the family (Roy 284). By changing the forms of these words, Roy moves the passage along so quickly that it causes Ammu, Rahel, and Estha to become small things in the station, which brings in the theme of small things that are important existing within or next to big things that can overpower the small things.

Roy’s manipulation of English throughout her novel is used to bring out a variety of themes. As a non-native English writer, Roy has taken a language that is not her own and molded it to work for her. Some may argue that Roy’s novel demonstrates a missuse of the English language, but a close read reveals that her use of capital letters in unusual places, as well as the use of smashing together words or writing words and phrases backwards brings out important themes throughout the novel. Some of these techniques even serve to bring out multiple themes. Although word and letter play are not the only vehicles for communicating theme that Roy employs, these techniques are used to introduce and emphasize the widest variety of different themes.

(Annotated Bibliography)

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