29th March 2018

2.9 personal responses

Suicide in the trenches

Siegfried Sassoon’s poem ‘Suicide in the trenches’ is a short poem about world war 2 where a young soldier finds the conditions of war so unbearable “he put a bullet through his brain”, it was written to show the true reality of war that the soldiers experienced to the public, rather than the lies the government feeds the people not at war to put an end to this madness and really shows the reader how horrible war was.

“I knew a simple soldier boy Who grinned at life in empty joy, Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, And whistled early with the lark.” This verse makes me think of a young adult barely out of his childhood who as a child fantasized about being a war hero, fighting for their country, killing the “bad guys”, enjoying life through a happy illusion, not a care in the world for the real problems the world faced. The line “I knew a simple soldier boy Who grinned at life in empty joy,” describes a simple boy, just old enough to be sent off to war, who like many others didn’t deserve to go to war but was unfortunate to be born at that time. A boy who lived a happy childhood full of empty joys, now forced to go off to war even tho he is barely old enough to drink. The next two lines “Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, And whistled early with the lark.” personally don’t mean that much to me but basically just continue on with the point that, the boy was a simple kid who had no worries in his life and lived a normal innocent life.

“In winter trenches, cowed and glum, With crumps and lice and lack of rum, He put a bullet through his brain. No one spoke of him again.” This verse shows the horrible conditions that caused a soldier to commit suicide rather than face the horrors of war. The line”In winter trenches, cowed and glum” means that since it was winter at the time the trenches were freezing and sometimes covered in snow, this usually put the battalion in a mood of sadness and depression due to the extreme conditions, the next line “With crumps and lice and lack of rum” further shows the poor conditions in the trenches, a crump is a loud thudding sound such as an explosion, like a shell landing nearby and lice is parasite that lives in human hair and feed of human blood. Lice thrived in the unhygienic close quarter environment of the trenches and spread disease throughout the soldiers, the lack or rum means they did not have enough rum to down their sorrows and numb the horrible conditions the soldiers lived in. The next line “he put a bullet through his brain” shows what effects these inhuman conditions had on the soldiers, people like this soldier often couldn’t bear the conditions and the killing involved in the war, often resulting in them shooting themselves to get out of war or “putting a bullet through their brain” to end it all. “no one spoke of him again” this line is about how no one spoke of his death again, most likely because that idea had passed through all their brains before but he was the only one who had decided to do the act. This verse shows us as the reader how horrible the conditions were, the extreme weather and mentally abusing environment that often causes men to think about or commit suicide. This verse really makes us as the reader appreciate life, knowing what boys of the past experienced it shows that life could be worse.

“You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you’ll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.” This verse talks about the people who have not experienced war, people who think that war is all fun and glory, fighting for your country, good guys against bad guys, the feeling of doing your country proud, the people who cheer as soldiers march down the street and call the ones who don’t want to go to war wimps and more. “You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by” refers to the smug-faced crowds that come to watch and ‘support’ the soldiers as they march by, while they do give the soldiers support they are completely unaware of what they soldiers actually face which leads on to the next line “Sneak home and pray you’ll never know The hell where youth and laughter go.” This line makes me think that the relatives of the soldiers go home and pray for the soldiers, pray they’ll have a good time and most importantly not get killed, but even tho the pray for them they’ll never experience the true horrors the soldiers experience, the death, the immoral and inhuman acts, the place where there childhood imaginations of being a soldier and happiness go to get destroyed- “The hell where youth and laughter go.” This verse shows us as the reader that you should never assume you understand what someone is going through, you may think you realise what is going on, but unless you have experienced what they have, been a part of what they have experienced you can never truly understand, This affects me because I am often a bit insensitive and assume I understand what people are going through even though I have never actually experienced what they have.

In conclusion the poem “suicide in the trenches” by Siegfried Sassoon, is meant to show the public what the reality of war really is, not the imaginary games you play as a kid being a soldier, but a crushing reality, where conditions are so bad and inhuman no one deserves to live in them, yet young adults are forced to fight and kill innocent people like themselves, this often puts so much mental stress on their brains that they often commit suicide, it shows us as the reader that you should never assume you understand the full story unless you have actually experienced what the victims have.



2nd response


21 is a movie about an MIT maths major called Ben Campbell, after being accepted into Harvard University, his dream in life, he can not afford the 300,000 dollar fees. To try and afford to go he applies for the Robinsons scholarship, but despite having perfect grades and a 44 mcat score he does not have that wow factor that makes him stand out from the rest of the competition, One day his professor Micky Rosa challenges him to complete the monty hall problem, a mind bending maths problem that most people fail to understand, after Ben nails the question his professor decides he would be the perfect candidate to join his blackjack card counting team, it may be the only way he can raise the 300,000 dollar fess he needs, for the next few months ben and the team would go away each weekend and were raising quite a bit of illegal money,  Ben begins to really enjoy the big player lifestyle he is living and not long after raises the 300,000 he needs, initially he decided he would stop at 300,000 dollars but now loves the lifestyle too much to stop and is starting to become a bit greedy. On one trip his teammates signal for him to leave the table, but Ben was too distracted to notice and loses the team 200,000 dollars, Rosa the team leader demands that Ben pays him back the 200,000 but Ben says he will not because he only has just over the amount to afford harvard, Rosa leaves, leaving the team stranded, and angrily Ben persuades the team to stay another night and win back the 200,000 they lost, after being tipped off by Rosa, Ben is caught card counting and the security chief  catches Ben and beats him up but at the end strikes a deal with Ben to catch Rosa, Ben goes home to find his room ransacked and money stolen, after a week or so he asks rosa to get the team back together and strike the casinos one last massive time and win back the lost money so he can pay for harvard, the team goes to vegas Rosa not knowing he was being set up, the night goes to plan and the head of security catches Rosa and the movie ends with ben using this story to dazzle the robinsons scholarship.


The movie 21 presents the story of MIT math major called Ben campbell, throughout the movie Ben quickly realises that good grades and intelligence aren’t everything, sadly in the world we live in sometimes no matter how good you are at something if you do not have the resources to achieve your goal you will struggle to make it, this is awfully sad because a lot of people’s talents go to waste due to the fact they can not afford the opportunities others can, luckily ben realises this and after seizing the opportunity to make illegal money through card counting in blackjack he begins to make the money he needs, what he doesn’t realize is that along this path he will get an amazing life experience that will help him win the Robinsons scholarship. This is the same in the real world, so many peoples talent go to waste because they do not have the money, time or resources to reach their full potential. I am in a similar situation, one of the goals in life is to become a world famous tricker, tricking is a sport which combines multiple martial arts and gymnastics to create an aesthetic display of acrobatic moves, the only issue is that since I live in Wanaka there are almost no gyms where I can go and train, this means that I have to work a lot harder to achieve what others do because I do not have access to the same resources they do. Ben also had this situation, he could not afford to go to Harvard like many others could but he was not going to let that stand in his way, instead, he went that extra mile and tried to raise the money by card counting in blackjack.


The second moral in this movie is that you should never get too greedy, after Ben raised the 300,000 dollars he needed he should have stopped like he planned to, instead he began to get more and more greedy and began to take more risks, this ultimately lead to his downfall when he risked too much and failed to see his teammates signals, rather than stopping there his greed swallowed him and he then tried to replace rosa and spend another night at the casino to raise more money, this involved a lot of risks and eventually he got caught and paid the price for his greed. This often happens to sports stars from humble backgrounds, after working hard their whole life to reach the top they finally reach it and suddenly they are the best, their hard work has paid off and they can basically do whatever they want and have all the money they could want, most of them then let this get to their brain, they stop working hard, get overconfident and think they are unstoppable, this often then ends in them making mistakes and failing to see where they went wrong just like Ben when he lost the 200,000, he was so confident in himself that he thought he could never fail so he started taking more and more risks and failed to see the signals his team was giving him, this resulted in him losing 200,000 and destroyed his chances of getting into harvard at that time. “The important lesson here is to know when to stop and when it is too late, in this case, ben pushed his luck too far and paid the price for it. This is an extremely important skill have because it is super easy to push luck and people too far.

Overall the movie 21 is the story of an MIT math major and his journey to getting into Harvard, along the way he learns many valuable lessons and maybe most important of all has many good and bad experiences. Overall I would recommend this movie to others because of the valuable lessons in this story, it teaches you the importance of money and resources but also the importance of real-world experience, it shows that there is a very fine line of when enough is enough and the consequences of getting overconfident and pushing your luck too far, I felt like I could relate to bens story cause I also am a hard worker at most of the stuff I do but often I do not get the same opportunities or resources so I have to work harder to achieve the same outcome, overall I would recommend this movie cause of the valuable lessons it teaches the viewers.



Insensibility is a poem written by Wilfred Owen, It was written about World War 1 on the front line from Owen’s personal experiences. It’s about the experiences the soldiers go through as they look death in the eye and see their comrades be killed knowing it could have just as easily been them, realising that they might never see their family again, it makes me as the reader horrified and shocked which was the message I think Wilfred Owen was trying to portray to the reader as he wrote this poem, sort of as a protest to what people typically believe war to be, people picture war as glory and winning in reality it is full of death and pain and there are no true winners, he wrote this poem as a way to express the emotions he felt when experiencing the war first hand but it was later published to show the true face of war.

Insensibility: lack of awareness or concern; indifference. Or unconsciousness

I think that the title “insensibility” is perfect for this poem, it perfectly describes the reason for these inhuman conditions and how and why WW1 was caused and ended up with this amount of slaughter. Insensibility is the lack of awareness or concern, soldiers were in such poor conditions because everyone lacked the awareness that everyone was in the same boat, everyone in the war had loved ones that would miss them if they were killed, “good” guys or “bad” guys they all still had families, everyone hated it just as much as everyone else yet they were forced to fight. The poem teaches us about the way society was back in the 1910’s, people did not understand fair rights and were very insensitive to people who weren’t considered “normal” or not in the majority, this included everything from blacks, to gays, to the enemy soldiers when in reality they were all the same kind of caring people with families. It is kind of hard for me to relate to this text as I in no way have experienced what these soldiers did, and this is kind of what I believe Wilfred Owens was going for with this text, it was written to shock and horrify the reader rather than have them relate to personal experiences because the point was that these men are going through some of the worst experiences ever and that we, the human race, should make sure that we never have a war this big or bad again. The quote from the last 4 lines of the poem; “Before the last sea and the hapless stars; Whatever mourns when many leave these shores; Whatever shares, The eternal reciprocity of tears.” talks about the losses every country felt after the war, it didn’t matter if you were on a winning country or country that lost, everyone experienced the loss of a loved one. “The eternal reciprocity of tears” talks about the tears shed for the people killed in the war; eternal meaning lasting forever and reciprocity meaning exchange between countries, so this line talks about how every country exchanges tears over this timeless war that we will always remember, and in honor of these deaths countries all around the world have elected days such as; remembrance Sunday, armistice day and veterans day to commemorate the worldwide losses that happened during this inhuman war.

Wilfred Owen’s uses a variety of language techniques throughout the poem insensibility, the main two being hidden meaning and metaphors, in most cases combining them to make these hidden metaphors that the reader must decipher to understand the true meaning. “But they are troops who fade, not flowers,” this is a line from verse one that compares troops dying to the fading of flowers, by breaking down each part you can see hidden meanings behind it, for example, it is saying that these soldiers are not getting a proper burial, they are fading away, or in other words being killed, and rather than having a proper burial where people put flowers on their grave which slowly fade and rot away, it is the soldiers who are fading, being in slaughtered with no remorse, fading out of their loved ones lives for no true reason other than meaningless war of innocent soldiers killing each other because of a couple people with power had a disagreement.

Another line from verse 1 is “Or makes their feet, Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.” this line uses a metaphor to compare the number of dead people on the streets to the cobblestones on the street, it is saying that there are so many dead people on the streets that it seems as though the cobblestones on the street are the bones of the dead and now rather than their feet being sore from running on cobblestones they are sore from stepping on the bones of their brothers both physically and mentally. Wilfred Owen’s style of writing and language techniques in this poem initially made me feel overwhelmed when I read it, he has a bold commanding style of poetry that I believe is especially prominent in this poem, he uses it to unsettle the reader and drill his message into the reader. It makes me feel revolted that young adults were forced to go into a such an inhuman war.

Overall the poem “Insensibility” written by Wilfred Owen is written about his personal experiences from during World War 1, seeing his comrades around him slaughtered, he wrote this poem to releases his emotions and stress, he wrote it in a way to shock and horrify the reader to show the true face of war, to show the reader especially at the time that it was published (1920) that the world should never have to face another war like this again, it was inhuman and affected almost every country in the world, he wrote it to show that there were no true winners in war, even if your country won or lost every country lost loved ones and was deeply affected by this inhuman war.


Behind Enemy Lines
A young Pilot’s story

‘Behind Enemy Lines’ is an autobiography written by Howard R. Demallie, it’s about the thrilling tale of his WW2 experience. During a German bomb raid, things went horribly wrong when his b-17 was struck by anti-aircraft fire otherwise known as flak. Severely damaged, Demallie managed to fly the plane out of Germany and over Holland when he and his crew were forced to parachute out. After landing he was separated from the rest of the crew and hid for a bit before being found by a group of Dutch boys, who helped him hide from the Germans currently occupying Holland, that night they escorted him to home where he meets Peter, Peter was a member of an underground resistance that helps allied soldiers back into allied territory. Although consequences would be bad, members of the local Resistance try to hide Howard and one of his crew, waiting for the perfect time to get him out of Holland and back to England, unfortunately Howard eventually is captured by the Germans who send him off to Stalag Luft 1, a German Prisoner of War camp where he lives in horrible conditions experiencing hunger, cold and abuse, until the camp is destroyed by Russians. This book is a thrilling story that teaches us about how to be a leader, and how there is always hope in mankind, people will always try to do what is right and that you should give without expecting.


Howard showed us how great of a leader he was when he took control of the situation after they were hit by flack, he commanded the plane and flew out of major danger over Holland, he then showed even more leadership when he made the call for him and his crew to leave the plane, after landing he was rescued by some dutch boys, who tried to hide him from the Germans who they knew would send him to a POW camp, here we saw how there is always hope in mankind, humans will always try to help people in trouble, and they knew that Howard would be in trouble if he were found so they decided to help him get back to allied ground safely, this was partly because holland was taken over by germany and of course the locals were not happy that holland was controlled by nazis at the time so they were on the allied side so there were hundreds of resistance groups through out holland, Howard later met peter who was part of one of those resistance groups and was gonna help him get back to England and was prepared to risk there lives to make this happen because they knew that every bit counts towards getting their country back. The quote when Howard met Peter “We will knock ourselves out to keep you from the damn germans” shows their devotion to getting Howard back to safety and their hate for the Nazis occupying Holland. This teaches us about the strong will of humans, our will to do what we think is right. Instead of following the orders of the Nazis in a situation that seemed unfair, the Dutch people fought back and did whatever they could to help the allies. The Dutch showed that you should not always expect something in return for your actions, they did whatever they could to help Howard including putting themselves and family in danger for little to nothing in return, it shows that you should not always expect something in return for helping someone out, that is what kindness is and separates us from animals.


This reminds me of when Liesel took a book from a Nazi book burning in ‘The Book Thief’, after the book burning ended she stayed behind and took a book, ‘The Shoulder Shrug’, out of the fire out of hatred for the Nazis, she knew she was putting herself and her family in danger for doing this but it was her way of fighting back at the Nazis, disobeying their orders, although it did not seem like much, the Nazis ordered these book burnings to destroy their history, and by Liesel taking a book out she was keeping a bit of German history alive nd enemies and how we will always try to do what is right. It shows the courage humans get if they believe they are doing the right thing even if it is minuscule in the big picture, 1 raindrop in the whole ocean. It showed me that although it doesn’t seem like much, little things count towards the big picture if not directly, whether it’s putting plastic in the recycling or sponsoring an African child so they can get a proper education it matters in the big picture, “what goes around comes around”


Overall ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ is a captivating autobiography that I would recommend to anyway one who is interested in war or would like to experience true stories of courage. It shows us the courage that Howard and the Dutch had during ww2 to do what is right, it taught me as the reader how little things count plastic in the recycling or sponsoring an African child so they can get a proper education it matters in the big picture, “what goes around comes around”


Overall ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ is a captivating autobiography that I would recommend to anyway one who is interested in war or would like to experience true stories of courage. It shows us the courage that Howard and the Dutch had during ww2 to do what is right, it taught me as the reader how little things count towards the big picture similar to Liesel taking ‘The Shoulder Shrug’ from a Nazi book burning in the book thief. It teaches us that we should always strive to do what is right and although it may not seem like much it counts toward the big picture, you should give and not expect anything in return, just like the Dutch did when helping Howard, overall Behind enemy lines is exhilarating story of human kindness that taught me as the reader you should not always expect something in return for your actions…


The Murder Of Humanity – Poem by Arfa Iris

Once there lived two friends,
human and humanity.
human was loving and caring,
while humanity spread peace and brotherhood.
under their friendship tree,
everyone was happy and merry.
in the same world lived Hate and Greed, full of sinister.
very different from all the other.
who were always jealous of human and humanity,
and they tried hard to part the friends
and throw them away in different ends.
the did succeed,
in the heart of human they planted hate-seed.
soon the seed started to rear,
and human was left with no love and care.
it turned furious towards humanity.
all their friendship woes turned into enmity.
hate and greed infected human one after the other.
and made human to commit the murder.
end of peace was marked with the murder of humanity,
in some lost corner is the grave of humanity,
now the world knows only hate, greed and enmity.


‘The Murder Of Humanity’ written by Arfa Iris is about physical representations of human qualities and the argument someone has within themselves when they are jealous. It’s the story of how humans and humanity were split up by hate and greed. In other words, hate and greed overpower their human side. Its a poem filled to with brim with metaphors and symbolism where almost any line can be perceived or understood to mean multiple things with a much deeper meaning than it looks like, it teaches the reader why jealoousy is the root of all evil.


Humans have always struggled with greed or hate, we have an uncontrollable desire to be the best even if it involves a few sins. When we see other people doing well we can’t help but wish we were in their position, we want to have it all and do it all because it’s in our human nature to want to be the best. I believe that this poem talks about the emotions of a person arguing inside their head.  It talks about the battle someone had with greed and hate against their human side. Greed and hate want to split up human and humanity, they are jealous of their relationship and want to have this for themselves. I think that this is a symbol for something that someone desires in the real world such as someone’s position or relationship or someone who is really good at something that you wish to be good at. I believe that all humans have this argument within themselves, greed and hate are what drives a person to want to achieve something and although seen as a negative emotion, I believe it is vital for human survival, it often can give us the drive to do something, for example, if you see someone in position or something that you want for yourself it can drive you to get to that position because you are jealous of that and want it for yourself. However greed causes you to have two choices, either put in the hard work and effort to achieve that desire, or plant a ‘seed of hate’ in that desire until what you desired feels so worthless that you no longer feel the need to reach that desire because it is in a worse position than you are yourself. This is often the case for bullying, bullies often bully people because they are jealous of someone, by putting them down you begin to no longer are jealous of that person because the situation they are in now is worse than yours. The choice between putting in the effort and hard work to do it your self or planting that ‘seed of hate’ is what really matters and depends on how much you use your greed or human side and which one you let win more often; hard work or jealousy, and its this decision that really defines you as a person and your choices you make in life.


“Once there lived two friends, human and humanity. human was loving and caring, while humanity spread peace and brotherhood. under their friendship tree, everyone was happy and merry.” These are the first five lines of the poem and talk about the personified idea of human and humanity, in this image I see Human as a symbol for hard work and effort, I see humanity as its relationship with other humans, for example, how much you respect and care for other people, the lines talk about how they lived in harmony in one big friendship tree, in other words all the other humans in the world that this person interacts with. The next three lines “in the same world lived Hate and Greed, full of sinister. very different from all the other. who were always jealous of human and humanity,”  talk about two more personified emotions in the human brain: hate and greed, hate and greed live in perfect harmony, getting along well with each other and feeding off each others negativity, it says how they are very different from all the emotions in the brain such as human or humanity. Hate and greed are jealous of human and humanity or other words, jealous of something that human and humanity have, and greed and hate want that for themselves. The next 3 lines “and they tried hard to part the friends and throw them away in different ends. the did succeed, in the heart of human they planted hate-seed”  talk of what greed and hate are going to do to try and get what they want, they plant a seed of hate in the heart of human, corrupting humans idea of hard work. the next 5 lines “soon the seed started to rear, and human was left with no love and care. it turned furious towards humanity. all their friendship woes turned into enmity. hate and greed infected human one after the other.
and made human to commit the murder.” talk of what this seed of hate does, human began to hate humanity, and by doing this lost all respect and love for humanity, human began to take over humanity driven by greed and hatred, human wanted it all for itself. “end of peace was marked with the murder of humanity, in some lost corner is the grave of humanity, now the world knows only hate, greed and enmity.” the poem ends with hate and greed winning, an all too  frequent outcome in the world today, human murders humanity, losing all respect and kindness for other humans, and try to take the easy way and get everything for itself, in this brain hatred and greed had won, human had killed humanity and was desperate to get everything for itself.


In conclusion, ‘The Murder Of Humanity’ written by Arfa Iris is a poem that shows a figurative representation of what happens during the feeling of jealousy in someone’s head, it shows the battle human had against greed and hate to try and keep respect for humanity, however in this argument greed and hate won, devouring human with greed putting him against humanity and effort to take it all for itself. I would recommend this to 12-13s because it shows the outcome of greed and hate, and by reading it they would hopefully take away a better understanding of why jealousy is the root of a lot of problems such as bullying. Overall this poem was an interesting poem filled with many many layers of deeper meanings, by breaking each layer down you can begin to see what Arfa Iris meant, that you should not allow greed and hate to conquer your brain, these emotions and thoughts are what cause the death of humanity


The Catcher in the Rye

The plot starts with a teenager named Holden Caulfield, the main protagonist, waiting in an institution, as he waits he recalls some events from the last Christmas. He begins his story at a posh school called Pencey Preparatory Academy, he goes on a fencing trip to New York where he buys a red hunting cap which he likes to wear backward. After he returns back to Pencey he gets expelled for not keeping up with many of his subjects, after going to his history teachers home he returns to his dorm with his hunting cap on. That night he gets in a fight with his roommate, Ward Stradlater, who punches him in the nose knocking him unconscious. This was too much for Holden and he was fed up with the ‘phonies’ at Pencey so he decides to leave. He sells his typewriter and buys a train ticket where he meets a wealthy mother of a child at pence, he lies to her about himself and her son. After that, he gets in a taxi to his hotel and asks the drivers about if the ducks migrate in the winter(ducks are important). Holden checks in and spends the night dancing with 3 tourists. After they leave he is frustrated so arrange for a prostitute to come up to his room. He changes his mind and just pays the prostitute to leave. However she returns with her pimp and take more money and Holden gets punched in the stomach. Depressed, he wakes up the next morning and organizes a date with a girl named Sally Hayes, he spots a small boy singing “If a body catch a body coming through the rye” which makes him happy. The date does not go well and she ends up leaving. After meeting with an old classmate, he gets drunk and goes to check out the ducks at central park, after going down memory lane about some memories from childhood he sneaks home and wakes up his sister Phoebe, the only person he feels he can actually express his true feelings to. phoebe quickly realizes he has been expelled and is annoyed with him, she then asks if there is anything he cares about in this world Holden shares a fantasy he has been thinking about. He pictures himself as the guardian of children playing in a rye field on the edge of a cliff. His job is to catch the children if they come close to falling off the brink. He was the “catcher in the rye”. He sneaks out and goes to see an old English teacher and they talk about life and offers him a place to sleep. He leaves. After not finding what he wanted in this city he decides to leave and goes to tell his sister, Phoebe wants to come but he does not let her. He takes her to the Zoo instead where he buys her a ticket for the carousel, Holden is finally filled with happiness as he watches his sister ride it in the rain. We then cut to a short ending where he encounters his parents and gets sick and leaves with the message that sharing your stories will make you miss the people in them.

The catcher in the rye is a novel by J. D. Salinger, when it was published it was quite revolutionary as it was one of the first books written from a teenagers perspective in the real world. At first impression, it seems like a very meaningless book as not much seems to happen, Holden seems to travel around and act aimlessly, initially I struggled to find the meaning the author wanted me to see, I think this was probably due to the fact that a lot of themes were quite abstract. But as I dove deeper into the text I could begin to see Holden’s hate of change, Holden liked his life how it used to be back when his brother was alive and didn’t want his life to change, but change has to happen, its all part of the journey.

Holden doesn’t like change, like many teenagers moving into adulthood he has no idea how or what to do when he is older. He wishes life could stay the same as it is, or even better back how it used to be before his younger brother Allie died. Many people hate change because it often exposes people to new experiences and if they enjoyed their life how it used to be people hate it. The ducks at central park are a symbol for change in Holden’s life, they moved for winter and he wants to know where and why they left, he enjoyed it when they were still at central park. This is a symbol for how he liked his life how it used to be as an innocent child and wonders why life had to throw some curve-balls and change. He wishes life didn’t have to change, such as the death of his younger brother Allie. He continuously asks people he meets where the ducks have gone for the winter but no one can give a straight answer. This symbolizes how no matter how prepared you are for change, it will always surprise you, it is unpredictable and this is meant to be the beauty of life: the changes, the new experiences, people get lulled into doing and experiencing the same thing through their whole life, and this is the worst thing a person can do. It reminds me of the quote; “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” This quote means that the greatest mistake people make in life is worrying about making mistakes, basically go out and try your best, mistakes happen, change happens, it just matters what you learn from those mistakes. Embrace the ducks leaving and enjoy looking at a new side of life, experiencing new experiences, rather than dwelling in the past.

Another theme in ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ is that life is about the journey not the destination. Everyone’s life is one big journey, it never happens exactly how you want it to happen. Holden is experiencing this throughout this book, its what the book is about, his journey from childhood to adulthood, his journey through adolescence. But he is trying to fight against the new turns and opportunities that his journey is exposing. A symbol for this in the text is when Holden lets his sister ride on the carousel, the carousel had a golden ring that kids could try and grab and they could win a prize, but they had to reach out quite far and risk falling off, the fun part for the kids wasn’t about getting the golden ring, it was feeling the risks, joys and disappointments of trying to get the ring every time they went around the carousel, they enjoyed the journey to get the ring rather than the destination, it didn’t matter to them if they got the ring or not as long as they had fun doing. This was a symbol for why you should enjoy the journey of life rather than the destination, and Holden needed to learn how to enjoy the ups and lows of the journey of life rather than thinking about the end product of life. In life you will experience many highs and lows, many changes and bumps in the journey, it doesn’t matter where you end up or what happens as long as you learn from the hiccups and turns along the way. In the end life is about enjoying yourself and Holden needs to learn that. I think Holden was beginning to understand this by the end of the book when he said “I felt so damn happy all of sudden, the way old Phoebe kept going around and around. I was damn near bawling, I felt so damn happy, if you want to know the truth. I don’t know why. It was just that she looked so damn nice, the way she kept going around and around, in her blue coat and all. God, I wish you could’ve been there.” he didn’t know why he felt so happy but he loved it and wishes we could’ve been there, but the truth is if we had been there we would never have felt the same level of happiness because we didn’t experience the journey he took to get to this position. In the end life is about the journey not the destination, embrace the bumps and changes in the journey and learn from the experiences.  I think this quote sums it up “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”

I would recommend this text to year 12 and 13’s because of the interesting themes in this text, I do not entirely agree with the all ideas in the text and I think year 12 and 13’s would find it interesting to see if they agree or disagree with the authors ideas. I think a lot kids hate change and as a teenager almost everything is changing. Whether its family issues like parents splitting up or moving to a new school or the amount of new assignments we get. These changes are often disliked and seen as bad thing. Its so easy for someone to say it was better how it used to be but changes have to happen, it’s just important to embrace these changes and use them as new experiences, its the journey to the destination that makes the destination enjoyable, learn to enjoy the ups and lows life, learn to enjoy the journey not the final destination.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. Blake, you begin to make valuable points about this visual text in the second paragraph, however your initial plot summary is too long. You have outlined the main plot details throughout the film but these could be shortened to just establishing the initial context (setting, character and situation) in the text.

    Also, remember that this is a personal response so it is important that you include what YOU have learned from the actions/decisions of the characters. I.e. What life lessons surface? What was the writer’s/director’s purpose?

    Lastly, you begin to compare Ben’s situation to the fate of “sports stars from humble backgrounds” – this is an interesting comparison, but again make sure the overall point you are making is complete and clear.

  2. Blake, you have given interesting personal reflections for Response 3: “Insensibility”, however, I would consider including supportive quotations for each point that you make. Also, make sure that you complete the points that you are making with overall judgements, warnings, messages etc. You begin to do this, but just make sure your final thoughts on the text are complete.

    Lastly, complete this response and have a final read through for technical accuracy: this helps the overall reading of the response. Good work thus far 🙂

  3. Well done, Blake for completing this assessment. You have included a number of relevant and interesting plot details to discuss and in most places (across the assignment), you have reflected on these details and what these mean to you. To complete this assessment, have a final read through and ensure that you have included your personal thoughts across all 6 responses, and that you have reflected on the writer’s purpose for these details; make your own judgments here.


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