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Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

As part of the summer reading assignment this year, I read the book Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol. In this documentary-style book, he told about the horrible yet completely realistic conditions of the most poor, rundown neighborhoods and districts in New York City. Kozol wrote the book for the purpose of telling the stories of the children who lived in these parts of the city. He dedicated his work to those children and it was his goal to inform readers that slums were in fact in existence and the children who resided there did not deserve to live in such a poverty-stricken area. The question “Why should their childhood be different from others across the country?” arose often and needs to be examined by all.

In some ways the stories, accounts and tales of these inner city children were shocking. I was aware that slums existed, but knew nothing of how they functioned, what living conditions were really like, or how the people there managed to live. But in no way was I aware that such conditions existed in America, the so called “Land of Opportunity.” It seems it was just the opposite in these ghettos. There was very little, if any for the people living here. No chance whatsoever of employment outside the ghetto, or being accepted outside it. It was their home, they were not supposed to leave it, and when they did they were eyed with hate by other people who did not want to be in their presence.

I was also mortified by the extremely high amounts of child deaths in this particular ghetto. It seemed terrible that so many young children were getting killed, whether it be an accidental death in an elevator shaft, and mistaken shootings, or because of the extremely unhealthy conditions they were living in and the poor treatments that were available at area hospitals. I cannot even imagine myself in those conditions or anyone for the matter.

The stories of people’s bravery in the face of so much adversity affected me the most. I am amazed by the people who live in these terrible conditions day after day year after year yet still have the drive to go on and encourage others that things will be better and that one day everything will be all right.

Using The Mythology of Love to Analyze Amy Foster

Using The Mythology of Love to Analyze Amy Foster

In Amy Foster, Joseph Conrad has written a great story that shows the different types of love felt between Amy and Yanko as described by Joseph Campbell in his essay on The Mythology of Love. The relationship of Yanko and Amy is dynamic and changes as the story progresses. At first, Amy feels compassion for Yanko; she does not see the differences between him and the English people as the others of Brenzett do. However, later in the story, compassion turns to passion. Amy’s son is then born; distinctions appear and she is either no longer able to love Yanko or she loves Yanko to such an extent that she finds she is incapable of joining Yanko on an earthly plane as Joseph Campbell describes (page 159). Whatever the reasons may be, Amy refuses to aid Yanko in his time of need, resulting in Yanko’s death. There is a great change of heart from Amy’s first compassion for Yanko to her nonchalance of his death. However, the results may have only been a product of the different levels of love felt by Amy for Yanko.

The general population of Brenzett treats Yanko an escaped lunatic when he is first spotted in the seaside town. He is whipped, stoned and beaten by many of the residents. In addition, he was captured and caged like a wild animal. He is described as a “drunk”, “tramp”, and “creature”. He is very different from the usual Englishman and is treated as such. He is segregated and is forced to work for Mr. Swaffer. However, one person sees through the differences. Amy, perhaps because of her stupidity or an ability to feel for Yanko, does not see a wild foreigner that screams at night and dances strangely. She saw only the similariti…

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… an alien and does not aid him, while she has lost all love for him. It is unclear to the reader whether it is great love that Amy experiences – so great, she cannot bear the pain – or it is an inability to love Yanko anymore that causes her stay motionless as Yanko calls for her help as he dies in front of her.

The story of Amy Foster presents an incredible mystery about the love between a dull woman and a foreign man. Even with the aid of an extremely helpful analysis of love by Joseph Campbell, it remains unclear why Amy acts the way she does as Yanko lies on his deathbed. Does Amy feel an immense love for Yanko or does she fail to love him at all? Whatever the reason may be, it is clear that she expresses throughout the story many of the differing types of love along with their implications discussed in Campbell’s essay, The Mythology of Love.

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