Playing with Categories
Day 11: Playing with Your Paper Projects

Jonathan Culler, Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction

Essentially...a plot requires a transformation. There must be an initial situation, a change ...and a resolution that marks the change as significant....there must be an end relating back to the beginning...that indicates what has happened to the desire that led to the events the story narrates (Culler 85).

...when he returned home from college after his freshman year my brother had become another person.....The members of my family have always had a knack for self-transformation....I suspect that Chapter Eleven's transformation was caused in no small part by that day...when his life was decided by lottery....Chapter Eleven...was trying to escape what he had dimly perceived...the possibility that not only his draft number was decided by lottery, but that everything was (317-318).

One of the things Cal acquires, in the course of the evolution of his mind,
is the ability to transform chance into pattern, the horrific into the positive,
to use a disintegrating universe to contruct a new one:

Grow up in Detroit and you understand the way of all things. Early on, you are put on close relations with entropy (517).

In my family, the funeral meats have always furnished the wedding tables. My grandmother agreed to marry my grandfather because she never thought she'd live to see the wedding. And my grandmother blessed my parents' marriage, after vigorously plotting against it, only because she didn't think Milton would survive to the end of the week (195).

"We're not going on vacation. There's a war!" (360)

[Callie is hit by a tractor, and wakes to] a beautiful sight. I saw the Object's face from below. My head was in her lap....for the first and last time, we kissed (394).

Cal is sometimes embarrased to admit that disaster can have positive effects:

Which leads me to a terrible confession...while the sun set melodramatically over a death that wasn't in the script, I felt a wave of pure happiness....I had the obscure Object in my arms (339).

Shameful as it is to say, the riots were the best thing that ever happened to us. Overnight we went from being a family desperatley trying to stay in the middle class to one with hopes of sneaking least the upper-middle (252).

Does Cal's insistant upward "turn" bother you ?

Cal presents the comedic as a deliberate re-writing of his ancestral genre, tragedy:

... strange infants born in the village...every few generations...always met with tragic ends....(117)

A real Greek might end of this tragic note. But an American is inclined to stay out just in time....before...the common tragedies of American life...[which] do not fit into this singular and uncommon record (511-512).

From Nice Cufflinks

Silently Tessie inserted the links, tragedy in one sleeve, comedy in the other...under the influence of those two-sided accessories, what happened next took on contrasting tones....Milton came face-to-face with the essence of tragedy, which is something determined before you're born, something you can't escape or do anything about, no matter how hard you try....But...there was a comic aspect to events that day, too....even a brand of harsh satire in my parents' quest itself, because it typified the American belief that everything can be solved....All this comedy, however, is retrospective (426).

It is based on the possibility of there always being an alternative, a choice.
It is both retrospective and futuristic, takes account of the past and looks into the future.

Pandora, from The Legend of Prometheus and Pandora's Box

From Sharon Burgmayer's Transformation

Cal: My bodily metamorphosis was a small family found that, contrary to popular opinion, gender was not all that important. My change from girl to boy was far less dramatic than the distance anybody travels from infancy to adulthood. In most ways I remained the person I'd always been (519-520).

Zora: "we're what's next" (490).

So...what are you thinking?
What are you building of this house of words?
What's next?

Your paper proposals

Helping one another along:
What's the "navel" of each proposal?
What's it digging for?
What makes it worth digging for?
How will the writer develop the argument?
What will her claims be,
and how will she support and organize them?

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