In the story “Kodama’s Ramen Shop,” by Ellen Oh, the grandmother is a dynamic character because by the end of the story she changes her attitude towards her non-Japanese family members and her attitude toward Korean food. Obaasan, as she is referred to in the story, realizes how much it hurts her granddaughter when she makes derogatory comments about aspects of Korean culture. There are many instances throughout the story where the main character, Jessie, talks about how her grandmother is racist, and has never treated people such as her mom or aunt well. “Auntie Mio was half-Japanese and half-Black, and although Mio spoke perfect Japanese, Obaasan never let her forget that she wasn’t 100 percent Japanese.” (160). Although Jessie’s Aunt was family, her grandmother never respected her because she was racist, and didn’t like anyone who wasn’t entirely Japanese. She wouldn’t let her help with certain things in her ramen shop because she did not trust that she would be able to do them well. Jessie resents her grandmother for always being rude to her late mother, who was Korean, and always hating her food. “Obaasan hated Korean food, but she seemed to hate kimchi the most. Jessie’s mom had to buy a small kimchi refrigerator and put it in the garage because Obaasan wouldn’t allow it in the kitchen.” (162). One day, a Korean customer came to their family’s ramen shop and asked for a spice or condiment like Kimchi to spice up the ramen which really infuriated Obaasan who insulted the customer under her breath. This was the final straw for Jessie who finally expressed her true feelings about how her Grandma mistreated Jessie’s mother simply because she was Korean. The explosive confrontation between Jessie and Obaasan led to Obaasan being hospitalized and then realizing that she has acted poorly toward people simply because they were of a different race. She realized her poor and unfair treatment of Jessie’s mother could ruin her ongoing relationship with the granddaughter she loves so dearly. “I was such a fool. I let my pride ruin everything, and I let my pride ruin everything… Will you teach me her kimchi recipe?” (177).
Monster, A novel by Walter Dean Myers, is an enthralling book about a young man’s struggle with the American Judicial society. Steve Harmon, 16, was mixed up in a robbery of a drugstore in which the owner was shot and killed. No one knows who actually pulled the trigger, or even who exactly was involved. Steve is on trial for first degree murder, but in the meantime is locked away in the county prison. The story is told from two different perspectives; the diary in which Steve keeps as a record of his life and time in prison, and as a movie script. The diary and movie script is a very interesting way to quickly shift modes, and to give the reader a chance to speculate as to what is going to happen. With plenty of strong evidence from both sides of the story, and a relentless prosecutor hell-bent on proving Steve guilty, this story is sure to leave you breathless. As the story progresses, the tension builds, and one burning question is stuck bouncing around Steve’s mind: Am I guilty? Read Monster to find out for yourself.
Author: Angie Thomas
In my opinion, the most compelling internal and external conflict in the book “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, is Starr’s conflict. Starr feels as she needs to “code switch” between Williamson Starr, her more kept away less “ghetto” version of herself, and her regular Starr, just her. Externally, Starr’s actions and the way she would handle things are very different when code switching. She makes a promise to herself to never ever let anyone see her as “ghetto” or “loud”.
Starr consistently claims that being cool as a black girl is different than being cool as a white person at Williamson, and since her school is dominantly white, she has to code switch. I believe that the internal conflict that connects with this is the way Starr didn’t really have the energy to code switch after the incident. She kept getting angry with people at school for making racist remarks and the subtle microaggressions. Usually, she would let it pass, but since shes been dealing with it so long internally and the incident, it all just came spilling out. Starr felt alone, embarrassed and confused because she felt as no one would understand her, she felt as she was betraying the black community, and she felt as all her hard work and energy she put into code switching was all for nothing because she had now been officially seen as “The angry black woman”. Stereotypical.
The book builds tension by explicitly describing the way Starr feels about her actions and code switching. The narrator is from Starr’s POV making the book more interesting and easier to connect with when her thoughts, emotions, and feelings are shared. Angie Thomas also leaves space for the reader to infer what she is thinking.
The movie Lion King is set in Africa, yet it only features animals. This could be interpreted as a way promoting a dominant narrative that Africa is wild and full of animals. It does not accurately represent modern day Africa and all of its culture.
Make a short post in which you respond to another’s group argument, agreeing or disagreeing with their thesis and briefly explaining why.
Make at least one comment on one of your classmates’ posts — not just saying you like it, but providing a brief, but substantive response to their points.
For many years, we used the Blogger platform for my classes. Since it is owned by Google, it integrates pretty seamlessly with your Google accounts — which made it easy to use, in some respects — but it is a very limited and bug-ridden platform. So we have decided to construct a new class blog from scratch using the most more powerful and stable WordPress platform.
If you are interested, though, in seeing what past American Studies students have been thinking and writing about, feel free to wander over to Take Control of Your Culture.
You can also check out my senior AP Lit students who are presently blogging over at Story Power.