Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Few Thoughts about the Progress We Have Made So Far, or Policy Reconsidered


In view of the mass absence on March 1, I've decided to rant on the topic of discipline and class attendance.

If you read my first post carefully, you might remember that "regular attendance is the only way to keep up with the ongoing "conversation" of the course. It will also be a factor in the final grades. You should not expect to pass the course if any one of the four major areas of the course--quizes, attendance/participation, blog entries, and the participation in the final web project -- missing, incomplete, or unsatisfactory".

If you are absent, you need to understand that an absence (whether excused, or not) is NOT a get-out-of-jail-free card for whatever assignments were done in class or due. I really hate to lecture like this but please remind yourselves that you are all grown people attending the top University by choice. Please don't expect hand-holding. All students in this course will be held to the same standard.

I hope that's the last time I have to bring that up! Let's concentrate now on moving forward with the class now. 70% of you are simply doing a wonderful job in the course so far. This is indeed a very demanding course with all the experimental stuff around it and those of you who are perfecting every single assignment I give you are truly proving that it IS possible to meet the expectations of a challenge. Bravo!

It will only be fair to those who attend all the class and post on their blogs on a regular basis that from now on:

1) every week each student is supposed to leave an entry on the group blog about what she/he has done over the week as far as the group project goes. It might be only a few lines about how many pages you have read, but it's crucial that you log in on the web site and create a post.

2) If you miss a class, you will be given a special written assignment to post on your blog about the reading you've missed. If one single lesson is not covered in this way, you won't be given a go-ahead for the end-of-the-year examination in English.

I expect Roman, Sasha, Ilya, Lilya (who missed the 02/15 class devoted to Theodore Dreiser's "The Second Choice") to reinterpret this story by using the first person point of view perspective. (Boys, please retell this story from Barton's point of view; Lilya, please retell this story as if told by Shirley's parents.)

To those who missed the "Dry September" class (Ilya, Roman, Lilya, Elya, Sveta, Lena): you are expected to retell the story in Hawkson's point of view. The essay is to contain 250-300 symbols.

See you on March 15,

A FOLLOW-UP: I have received the "Dry September" summaries from Sveta M. and Lilya Kh. They retold "Dry September" by William Faulkner from the barber's perspective. Good job!

Well, everything happened so quickly that I could hardly resist that gang of McLendon. I guess I was scared myself. Some client dropped by at the hairdresser’s and told the latest news about that notorious rape. I’ve known Will Mayes for good and I know he was morally incapable of committing such a dirty crime. Knowing Minnie Cooper, I would actually believe she has done something to herself. But McLendon
rushed in with his racist attitude prompting everyone to ‘punish the Negro’. I relied upon my clients’ and just acquaintances’ common sense but it looks like racism and hatred for the black took its own. They quickly decided upon the vehicle and the ‘mob law method’. I was forced to accompany them as I was fiendishly scared of that damn general. We dropped by at Mayes’ place and McLendon struck Will into the car. I couldn’t stand that bloody journey knowing that in some 30 minutes this black guy next to me would be slaughtered. On half way I got out of the car as I didn’t mean to stain my hands with the blood of the innocent guy. On my way home I saw the same car returning but, as you see, without Will there. Some days later I learned that Minnie was vulnerable to mental disorder. Her mental health was ruined
after that ‘Negro incident’. Anyway, why would she? What could have been the cause of her indisposition if she was only a victim?


It was the sixty third rainless day of bloody September, Saturday which I will never forget. In the evening I was on my working place, in the barber shop. Somebody told the rumor, story, or whatever it was, about Miss Minnie Cooper and the Negro. At that moment I was shaving a client and was really surprised and even shocked to hear this news, because I knew this guy. It was Will Mayes, a good nigger. And I knew Miss Minnie Cooper, too. Everybody knew. And I told about it to the people present. There and then they started to accuse me of nigger loving, but all I was trying to say was just the fact that he couldn’t do it and Miss Cooper was known for her weirdness. You know the women that get old without getting married… Besides, there was an incident about a year ago, when she said that a man on the kitchen roof was watching her undressed. But nobody wanted to listen to me and to hear me. The most furious were Butch and McLendon, who came in the barber shop in the heat of the dispute. He immediately became the leader of the 3 angry men and they all went out. The screen door crashed behind them reverberant in the dead air. I couldn’t let them….do it, so I went out, running. I went swiftly up the street, where the sparse lights, insect swirled glared in violent suspension air. When I overtook them, McLendon and three others were getting into a car parked in an alley. They thought I changed my mind and offered me to jump into their car. I did it, because there was no another chance to stop them. I asked them, if he was there, didn’t that prove that he never done it. But there was no answer. McLendon called Will. The vague noises began to grow out of the darkness ahead; then they got out and waited in the dark. Then I heard another sound: a blow, a hissing expulsion of breath. Somebody (probably, Butch) whispered: “Kill him, kill the black son!”. But McLendon told them to drag the Negro to the car. I had waited beside the car and could feel myself sweating, I knew I was going to be sick at the stomach. Will really didn’t know why they grabbed him, what did he and what they were going to do with him. It was awful. The Negro didn’t want to get in the gar, McLendon struck him, the others struck him with random blows and he whirled and cursed them, swept his hands across our faces and slashed me upon the mouth, and I stuck him, too…. Then he got in the car. I couldn’t be there anymore and asked John to let me out. McLendon drove swiftly and didn’t stop the car. The road led to an abandoned brick kiln…As he didn’t stop, I kicked the door open and jumped. The car went on without checking speed. I fell into the ditch and lay chocking and retching until the second car passed. Then rose and limped on until reached the highroad and turned toward town. Suddenly I heard the cars behind me, so I left the road and crouched again in the weeds until they passed away. The last was McLendon’s car. There were 4 people in this bloody car and Butch was not on the running board as before. Done. I don’t remember how I got to my house. And that dry September day I don’t want to recall but will never forget.

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