Is Adnan Syed Innocent or Guilty?

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“It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.” (Serial)

Serial is a new podcast from the makers of the brilliant This American Life. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the veteran reporter is looking at a murder case from 1999 in which a young high-school student, Hae Min Lee, was found dead in a Baltimore park having been strangled. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged with the crime and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. He has protested his innocence ever since. This, being a non-fiction podcast raised a few interests for people, but also some concerns as well. You can look at my previous blog of initial reactions to the podcast here: Serial- A Podcast That Feels Like a Movie.

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Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee started dating February 1998 and broke up December 1999. 

For many Serial listeners, the question isn’t: “Who killed Hae?” It’s: “Was it Adnan or was it Jay?” Should Adnan have gone to prison? Can anyone really know what happened that day except for them? Yes, but either way,  I believe that Adnan Syed was unjustly sentenced to life in prison, without having solid proof against him.  I live in Canada and I am used to the judgement that someone is “innocent until proven guilty”. Yes I know this is not how Adnan’s case was looked at, but to determine the conclusion for myself, I decided to look at the facts, and see if I could prove that Adnan was guilty.

Jay Wilds

Jay Wilds
Jay was play a key role in the investigation of Hae.

Though the prosecution offered no physical evidence or eyewitnesses that connected Syed to the crime, the State largely relied on the testimony of acquaintance Jay Wilds to corroborate with cell phone tower records. Wilds, who borrowed Syed’s phone and car for a portion of the day in question, said he helped Syed bury Lee’s body and eventually led cops to her car. Jay was with Adnan that day and when giving a report to the police he says that he helped Adnan bury the body, leading the police to Adnan as their first and seemingly only suspect. The big piece of evidence that the police used against Adnan was Adnan’s phone records from that day which they tracked to find out where the phone was that day. Here is a look at the phone records which clearly lay out exactly where the phone was at different times that day. Adnan’s story matches 100% with the beginning of the day, and the end of the day. There is no word from Jay, so all the calls and locations of the phone in the afternoon match Adnans testimony: “Jay had my car and my phone and he drove around using my cell and he picked me up and we smoked weed…..” (Serial) But what the police were holding against Adnan was that between 7 pm and 9 pm the travel path of the phone and the travel path of Adnan according to his testimony suddenly don’t match at all. There was a perfect window for ‘someone’ to bury a body. Here is an interactive cell phone tower map from Serial that points out the paths and times of the cell phone and Hae: https://serialpodcast.org/maps/cell-tower-map

As found in this blog about Jay’s story fitting the cell phone records, there is sure proof of the inconsistencies of Jay’s testimonies. For background purposes, here is what Jay said during his first interview:

Ritz: What happens after you drop him off at school, is there come a point in time when you go back to school and pick him up?
Jay: Yeah, uh huh.
Ritz: How do you know what time to go back to school?
Jay: He called me on the cell phone.
Ritz: Do you recall what time he called you?
Jay: Um maybe like six forty-five, something like that.
Ritz: When he calls you at six forty-five, where exactly are you?
Jay: Ah I think I was at my house.
Ritz: You’re at home?
Jay: Yes.
Ritz: You leave home, you go back over to school to pick him up?
Jay: Uh-huh. (Int.1 at 11-12.)

And here is what Jay said in the second:

Ritz: Were did you drop him off at school?
Jay: In the front.
Ritz: Were do you go?
Jay: I go, I was on my way home, but then I stopped off at G[i]lston Park and ah, ah, I smoked another blunt before I went home. And then, I, I think I may have, may have gone yeah, I went to Cathy and Jeff’s. And [Adnan] called me from the cell phone there and then I left Cathy’s and Jeff’s to hang out. (Int.2 at 20-21.)



Rabia Chaudry is the attorney and author of Adnan’s story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial. She explains Jay’s side of things as, “The reason Jay’s stories kept changing was the police kept gathering new information,” she says. “They would return to Jay for an interview, and all of a sudden, his story would change to match that information. So this is why Jay couldn’t keep his story straight – because they weren’t his stories.” (Chaudry Rabia. Stylist)

 

“Wilds changed his story during the investigation and trial, and did so again most recently in an interview with the publication the Intercept. In that, he says the burial took place around midnight, negating any significance the cell records had in placing Adnan near the burial site around 7pm.” (Chaudry, Rabia. Stylist.) Yes it is very fishy that Adnan’s phone would be at the park where Hae is buried, and there is a window of time when Adnan is unaccounted for, but that is not proof. I would not be able to rest all my judgement on someone’s word, and suspicious phone records to send someone to jail for life.

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Adnan Syed being escorted from the courthouse in Baltimore in February 2016. Photo: Getty

 

“The importance of Serial was not so much to investigate the case, but to bring attention to it. And we needed that attention.” (Chaudry Rabia)

 

 

The Autopsy Report

At Adnan Syed’s trial in 2000, Wilds testified that Syed showed him Hae’s body in the trunk of her can, and he helped Syed bury Hae’s body in Leakin Park around 7:00p.m.

At Syed’s 2000 trial, Syed acquaintance Jay Wilds testified that Syed showed him Lee’s body in the trunk of Lee’s car, and that he helped Syed bury Lee in Leakin Park around 7 p.m. the night of January 13, 1999, about four-and-a-half hours after Syed allegedly strangled her.

But Chaudry says the autopsy report makes this scenario “impossible.”

“The autopsy says that after she was killed, she was lying somewhere flat on her face for at least 10 to 12 hours before she was left in the park,” says Chaudry. “Where was she those 10 hours?” (Herbst, Diane) Police collected swabs from Lee’s body – including vaginal swabs – but they never tested them for DNA despite the fact that Lee was found with her long black skirt gathered above her waist. (Could this be because the police believed that they could find Syed had no involvement with the murder?)  There was no DNA found under Hae’s fingernails that matched Adnan, which would be very unlikely if he was the one had strangled her and buried her.

 

Asia McClain

 

Asia McClain (Now married and called Asia McClain Chapman), a high school classmate of Syed’s, testified at his 2016 post-conviction hearing that she was in the library with Syed after school during the time prosecutors said he killed Lee at 2:36 p.m. McClain wrote Syed two letters reminding him about their time that day. Syed had given the letters to his original defense attorney, Cristina Gutierrez. But Gutierrez never contacted McClain and she never got to testify at his trial that she was with him until about 2:40 p.m. the day Hae disappeared.

Syed and Lee
McClain has said since the day Syed (circled bottom) was charged that she was with him in the library at the time Lee (circled top) is believed to have been killed.

Conclusion

I can not see any reason for Adnan to have been sentenced to a like in prison. There was absolutely no sure proof against him, except people’s word, and suspicion. So we have to ask ourselves, If Adnan Syed didn’t murder Hae Min Lee, then who did? The case may never be solved, and the killer never found. But we can decide for ourselves if the law acted as they should have, and if the 17-year old that was put behind bars back in 1999 was indeed guilty, or innocent.

 

 

Works Cited

“A look at Adnan’s phone records without Jay’s testimony • r/serialpodcast.” Reddit. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://www.reddit.com/r/serialpodcast/comments/3olqyj/a_look_at_adnans_phone_records_without_jays/&gt;.
Herbst, Diane. “Adnan Syed is Innocent and I Can Prove It: Lawyer Rabia Chaudry.” PEOPLE.com. Time Inc, 03 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 July 2017. <http://people.com/crime/adnan-syed-is-innocent-and-i-can-prove-it-lawyer-rabia-chaudry/&gt;.
“Serial: Evidence that Jay’s Story was Coached to Fit the Cellphone Records.” The View From LL2. N.p., 17 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://viewfromll2.com/2015/01/13/serial-evidence-that-jays-story-was-coached-to-fit-the-cellphone-records/&gt;.
Sun), Justin Fenton (The Baltimore. “Brief of Appellant (State v Adnan Syed).” DocumentCloud. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3475879-Brief-of-Appellant-State-v-Adnan-Syed.html&gt;.

 

Serial- A Podcast That Feels Like a Movie

 

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Serial, the story of a 1999 murder case in Baltimore, has become the world’s most popular podcast and redefined people’s expectations of podcasts as a medium.

 

Who knew that listening to a murder mystery while sitting down with my family for supper could be such an amazing experience. You’re probably thinking that I’m nuts, but sure enough,   as an English assignment, I was asked to listen to the first episode of the podcast Serial. My family decided to make a night out of it and we all sat down and listened together. That was the quietest my family ever has been, everyone wanting to hear every detail of the narrator, Sarah Hoenig. The experience was really cool.

Serial is a new podcast from the makers of the brilliant This American Life. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the veteran reporter is looking at a murder case from 1999 in which a young high-school student, Hae Min Lee, was found dead in a Baltimore park having been strangled. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged with the crime and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years. He has protested his innocence ever since

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Newspaper article from February 26, 2000 about murder of Hae Min Lee.

Unknown to me when I first listened to this podcast, it is actually a non-fiction story, that has been told over a series of podcasts. True crime, according to Wikipedia, “is a non-fiction literary and film genre in which the author examines an actual crime and details the actions of real people.” (True Crime) When I found out, the first thing that I thought was, “Isn’t that a complete violation to the law and the victims privacy?” After a bit or research, I found out that the family, indeed in enraged for the wide production of her daughters death, and the fact that Sarah is defending her killer. The family of Hae Min Lee say her convicted killer Adnan Syed “destroyed our family” in a letter slamming the podcast and its intentions. They write that the podcast is forcing them to “relive a nightmare we thought was behind us,” (Dailymail.com, Wils Robinson)


The producers did such a good job of making the story come to life, despite no use of visuals. The podcast is spoken by Sarah Koenig, and is very informal. If you have listened to audio books or other podcasts before, Serial is very different. Sarah is very relaxed while talking about the case and is casual with what she was saying. It almost seems like she is having a conversation with herself, and didn’t know anyone was listening. I think that this brings those listeners in so much more, as it is so personal. Sarah puts her emotions into the podcast; she mentions facts like how she was very happy when she heard Asia’s voice on the phone, and how Adnan was an attractive man, which clouded her vision making her think, “Could someone who looks like that really strangle his girlfriend?” (Koenig) I loved how I felt almost a part of this story, living through Sarah’s life, just anticipating what would turn up next. Oddly enough, I am not one for mystery novels, or movies, so it really surprised my how well this podcast drew me in. Sarah’s use of investigative journalism  gives an insight to the life of a ‘detective’ and  to discover the truth and to identify lapses from from the story in the format of a podcast.

Something that is really neat about this podcast series, is when anyone other than Sarah is speaking, there is a different speaker in the podcast. Audio books especially do not add in more voices than the narrator’s, so when I heard other voices, it makes the story so much more real, and I could follow along with the entire story line with no problem.

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Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee started dating February 1998 and were almost together one year before Hae is killed.  

Listening to the show is like watching one of cinema’s great documentaries but knowing there’ll be another episode in near future. When we listen to the interviews from people on the podcast, we cannot be sure whether the interviewees are telling the truth, lying outright or have had their memories distorted over the years. 15 years is a long time and high school seems a lifetime ago for most of the major players. I know that if I were asked what happened on a certain day even one year ago, I would be dumbfounded. Adnan doesn’t remember much of anything that happened that day, which to me almost seems suspicious. You would think that the day your girlfriend was killed would stand out in your brain, but who knows. With this is mind, we can never truly know how accurate the podcast is, and the evidence around it. The Telegraph speaks on the series and states, “The most astonishing thing about the series is that Koenig is still working on the case. The host has no idea how long Serial might run or whether the conclusion will be satisfying.” (Richman, Darren)

 

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This American Life’s Serial podcast have been downloaded and streamed more than 5m times from Apple’s iTunes store alone, according to the company.

 


With any medium, there are benefits and drawbacks, and listing to a podcast certainly has both as well. I love how podcasts are portable, fairly inexpensive, being able to start and stop when necessary, and most importantly, give the opportunity to lay down on the couch and have an ‘eye break’ while getting content in. On the other hand, podcasts do not generally allow different representation of the material, can only be used effectively on short topics, must have a electronic device on hand, and are not well suited for complex subjects that necessitate visual support to fully comprehend e.g. mathematics. The key to any type of learning is to have a diverse representation of material and to use more than one type of medium. Podcasts can be great for learning topics and leisure and I will certainly be using more of them in the future.

If you want to catch up on what has happened in Serial, click on this link to get a free download from audible.com www.audible.com/serial. Was Adnan innocent or wasn’t he? Had people been lying the whole time? What will become of the story of the 18 year old Hae Min Lee? And will you be there to find out?

 

 

Works Cited

Richman, Darren. “Why Serial is the greatest podcast ever made.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11230770/Why-Serial-is-the-greatest-podcast-ever-made.html&gt;.
Dailymail.com, Wills Robinson For. “Family of ‘Serial’ victim Hae Min Lee say her convicted killer Adnan Syed ‘destroyed our family’ in emotional letter that slams the podcast’s fans for running to defend him.” Daily Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3437662/Family-Serial-victim-Hae-Min-Lee-says-convicted-killer-Adnan-Syed-destroyed-family-slams-podcast-s-fans-running-defend-him.html&gt;.
“True crime.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 20 July 2017. Web. 21 July 2017. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_crime&gt;.

A Mercy; A Feminist View

Toni Morrison is an African American author and professor who has written many books and articles on the subject of African American women, and their rights.  I have just finished reading A Mercy by Toni Morrison; it is a novel based in 1670s America and I could clearly see the feminism and struggles that the African American women encounter.  Throughout the novel, as I looked though a lens of Feminist Literary Theory Criticism, I saw many instances of feminism, and how they relate to the world today. This novel is a non-fiction story, but the struggles of the African American women in it, are struggles that I believe should not go unnoticed. Before I go into different examples of feminism in the book, it is important to understand what feminism is.  Feminism as defined from Webster’s Dictionary as “The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” According to Purdue OWL, “Feminist criticism is concerned with …the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women” (Welcome to the Purdue OWL). This theory looks at how most cultures are  patriarchal (male dominated) and “strives to expose the explicit and implicit misogyny in male writing about women” (Welcome to the Purdue OWL).

Here is a video I made to demonstrate how some of the characters experienced feminism in the story, and maybe overcame that struggle. Continue reading for a deeper understanding.

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A Mercy, by Toni Morrison has been rated  by New Your Times book review as Best Book of the year.

Okay, now that we have that over with, lets dig into some patterns related to feminism when I was reading this novel. The first girl we are introduced to is Florens the protagonist, a young slave girl living at a plantation. From the very beginning she is not looked upon as anything of worth from her first owner, so when Jacob, a trader picks her out to buy, she is eagerly cast away with a simple, “Why yes, of course, I’ll send her to you immediately,” ( Morrison 26). From a young age, Florens is the witness of feminism and how many women in the novel, both slaves and white, are subject to mistreatment and are of less value than to a man.  There is a high level of rape and abuse directed from her first owner. Her mother who had personally experienced the hand of D’Ortega their owner, begs Jacob to take her daughter, to save her from a life of sexual abuse and rape. Jacob agrees and D’Ortega arranges to have Florens sent to New England. Florens is a young, strong slave, but because she was a woman, D’Ortega shrugged her off as if she had no worth compared to a male slave who automatically are valued as high worth. This sets off a theme from the beginning of the story that women have no say in their lives, and can’t choose their fate.

In the story, Florens meets and falls in love with a free African American blacksmith. They have a sexual relationship, but he ends up leaving her after he is done working for Jacob without as much as a goodbye. She has no personal value to him, and she is only an object to  please his sexual desires. Later on in the story, she has to go to him and bring him back to the estate so he could heal her mistress, Rebecca. Instead of accompanying him back, she is to stay at his place and care for a small boy. Without hesitation, she is left to do the ‘duties’ as a stereotypical woman. While she is looking after the boy, she grabbed his arm when he was crying and accidentally broke it. When the blacksmith returned, he immediately blames Florens, whom he has known longer, and instead cares for the boy, putting the boys worth in front of hers. Florens explains, “The back of your hand strikes my face…No tender fingers to touch where you hurt me. I cower.” (Morrison)

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Domestic violence in today’s legal system is a punishable crime, yet in the 1960s, it was very common and not looked further into, even dramatic cases.

At the Varrak Estate (Jacob’s home), there may be some instance of rape because when Florens first comes to the estate, Sorrow, another slave girl, is pregnant and the father is unknown. One of the older lady slaves, Lina, believes that the father is Jacob. Sorrow is a good representation of the world today, as it is overcoming the struggle with feminism. At the beginning, Sorrow is pregnant and it is implied that she suffers from some kind of mental illness or possession by evil spirits. (Morrison)

Sorrow- “Although all her life she had been saved by men— Captain, the sawyers’ sons, Sir and now Will and Scully— she was convinced that this time she had done something, something important, by herself.” (Morrison)

This outcast of a women is a representation to how women were looked upon by men in the past,  but when she has her baby, she regains her sanity and shows the true strength of a women. She overcame so much in her life, and even goes as far as renaming herself to “Complete”. I loved to see this battle that she faced, and how she came on top. Just like sorrow, women in the past were unworthy and sometimes unwanted, but now, women are overcoming the ever-present struggle as they are moving up in the world, getting high quality jobs and responsibilities.

The native American slave, Lina, also receives abuse at the hands of a male at once again in the case of a lover. She had a rough past when taken in by the Presbyterians after her village was killed off my disease. She was beaten by a lover and forced to walk through town, bruised an bleeding, a very humiliating experience. Again this shows how invaluable women were, and in the novel, her wounds were described as  “Lina’s swollen eye had calmed, and the lash cuts on her face, arms and legs had healed and were barely noticeable.” She had experienced a great amount of abuse and suffering, but her  injuries were describes as a minor thing that she just had to suck up and wait for healing. The native American women “were fighting for a double victory—one to end slavery and the other to end discrimination based on gender.” (Abolitionism – Abolitionism And Feminism)

Read more: Abolitionism – Abolitionism And Feminism – Women, Abolitionist, Movement, and Rights – JRank Articles http://science.jrank.org/pages/8175/Abolitionism-Abolitionism-Feminism.html#ixzz4nOIfWErX

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Black females experience a rate of domestic violence 35% higher to white women and about 22 times the rate of women from other races

When reading A Mercy, I thought that primarily the slave women would encounter feminism, but I was mistaken. Jacob was a younger single man so when he decided he needed a wife, you would probably think he would go out and meet someone and fall in love, but instead he “searched the advertisements posted at the printer’s in town.” (Morrison) Women were displayed just as a cow would be at an auction for rent or sell and men would buy the one they wanted, so Jacob found Rebekka, a “Hardy female, Christianized and capable in all matters domestic available for exchange of goods or specie.” She has absolutely no say in her future, and is merely the answer to an add put in the paper, which says enough about the value of women right there, since it was perfectly normal to put ads up for women. So, she is placed on a boat to take her over to New England, and right away, she is aware of the contrasting treatments of genders when “… they were separated from the males…and led to a dark space below next to the animal stalls.” (Morrison) It was never given a second thought when women were treated on the same level as animals. Once she was living with Jacob, she worked a lot on the farm, helping the family out but Jacob was the only person referred to as the ‘breadwinner’. When they had to make large decisions for the family when Jacob comes into money, he decided to spend it on building another home, without giving Rebekka a chance to give her opinion, as if it isn’t valid.  This novel displays the patriarchal system with great detail, and I feel it does an accurate job of getting the point across. Women are depicted in the novel by as a ‘lower class’ all the time. They are used to having their thoughts and needs bring of no value and it was the norm for them to have their lives chosen for them. I personally believe that this is mental abuse, and it just opens my eyes to the fact that something should have been done to end feminism a long time ago.

The way women are portrayed in the novel demonstrates a period in time when feminism was normal and to me it is almost a cry for help. Toni Morrison lays history out in a clear way, while making it entertaining to teach others of this story.  I was thinking about the significance of the patriarchal system and decided that since this was such a predominant way of life in our culture, it is so rooted in out brains that it is probably the reason we have not fully overcome issue. It is clear in the book that women were constantly responding the men’s needs which lead to the women’s need often being overlooked. Men equal power, when women equal submission, which is the forefront of a lot of the sexual assaults and rape not only in the book, but also in the world today.  This article well outlines the struggles that African American women have overcome throughout their history and how Toni Morrison was one of the women who, “Broke silence in the 1970s” and “developed a ‘voice’, a self-defined, collective black women’s standpoint about black womanhood…and its unthinkable past.” (Collins) Although discrimination represented in A Mercy is not as prevalent in the world as we know it today, especially since there has been an end to slavery, it is still alive in today’s culture. A Mercy is a great book to look at with a feminist view, and as a reader, you can learn so much if you take the time to read between the lines.

To hear Toni Morrison speak on the relationship between racism and slavery, and the structure to her writing, watch this video

 

Works Cited

“Abolitionism – Abolitionism And Feminism.” Women, Abolitionist, Movement, and Rights – JRank Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. <http://science.jrank.org/pages/8175/Abolitionism-Abolitionism-Feminism.html&gt;.
Collins, Patricia Hill. “What’s in a Name?” Taylor & Francis. N.p., 14 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 July 2017. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00064246.1996.11430765?journalCode=rtbs20&gt;.
“Feminism.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feminism&gt;.
Patolia , Nishita. “Domestic Violence PPT final.” LinkedIn SlideShare. N.p., 20 June 2015. Web. 20 July 2017. <https://www.slideshare.net/NishitaPatolia/domestic-violence-ppt-final-49638271&gt;.
“Welcome to the Purdue OWL.” Purdue OWL: Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 July 2017. <https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/11/&gt;.

 

A Mercy; An Archetypal View

Normally, when people read a novel, it is just for fun, and often times we don’t look deeper than the word on the page. What I think we don’t always realize, is that there is so much meaning that we can pull from a single novel, and if we really look at books with a different view sometimes, that can be really beneficial. On this note, I have been reading the novel, A Mercy by: Toni Morrison for a few days now, and I have been asked by my teacher to look at it with an  archetypal view. What I didn’t know was the different take I would have on the story, and how I realized that what Morrison wanted to portray was the history and culture of the time, rather than the stories of the three main women. He uses “extraordinary people…to find what is applicable to the ordinary” (Taylor Guthrie, 1994, p. 125).

 

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gjh The stories of slaves and their owners in 1960 is not only compelling but heart wrenching.

The archetype that stood out the most for me is the Triple Goddess which is portrayed in Florens, a young slave girl, her mother, and Lina, an older servant at her master’s house. The ‘Triple Goddess’ refers to three female figures most commonly the Virgin, the Mother, and the Crone. These positions would generally represent a separate place in the female life cycle and although typically represented through just one female, I saw in the story how these three women relate to this archetype. Florens would represent the Virgin, due the the fact that she is a young virginal girl who has not yet experienced the world. She has optimism and enchantment with life, yet is too young to decide her life for her. When Jacob Vaark, the Anglo-Dutch trader has to pick a slave for himself, he buys her, age 8, from her owner for “twenty pieces of eight, considering the number of years ahead of her…” (Morrison). The Mother in the Triple Goddess would obviously be a minha mãebe because it literally translates from Portuguese to “my mother”. She is the fertile mother of Florens, who was conceived by rape from a plantation hand, and relates to “the Mother” of the Triple Goddess because of her protective and loving motherly nature. She knows that the plantation that her and Florens are living at presently is not good conditions so when a Jacob comes, she asks for him to take Florens instead of her. “Please, Senhor. Not me. Take her. Take my daughter” (Morrison). At first I thought that is was because she did not care about Florens and separating herself from her daughter was for her own personal gain, but I now realize that is was for her daughters well-being. Morrison describes a minha mãebe on the back cover of the book saying, “a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her,” which is why I feel she fits the role for the Triple Goddess. Lastly, Lina is Florens’ motherly figure while living at Jacob’s house and she is the Crone in the Triple Goddess because her elderly wisdom and clarity on life. My favorite quote from Lina is “We never shape the world… The world shapes us,” (Morrison) . I feel that this can really demonstrate the character of the Crone being depicted though Lina, and how she has found the real meaning of life. The characters that I connected Florens, her mother and Lina to were Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, and Gandalf from J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Hobbit (Yes I’m kind of a nerd). Bilbo and Florens both are young and living in a world that they have not experienced, a minha mãebe and Thorin are the leader of their family, strong, but still have life to live and a lot to learn, and lastly Lina and Gandalf are representations of the typical old wise person that indirectly inspires the characters as well as us the reader.

Another important character in the novel is Jacob Vaark. He fills the archetype of the Adventurer. The Dutch trader, who has moved to the New World in search of land and wealth. I feel that he fits the role of the Adventurer because is a bit of an outcast, having been orphaned as a child, before becoming a runner for the law and inherited his land in New England.

“When Jacob, a small-scale trader… found himself an heir of sorts, he relished the tought of becoming a landowning, independent farmer. He didn’t change his mind about that. He did what was necessary: secured a wife, someone to help her, planted, built, fathered… He had simply added the trading life. “

He always seems to be able to set his eyes on a goal, and usually they were unrealistic in the time period, but still somewhat achieved them. The word somewhat is key, since he was a bit of a failure at farming and fathering (since all of his children died). I personally connect Jacob to the Marvel character, Tony Stark (Iron Man) because when I read about him in the book, I feel that he is a fun, free-going person. He has strong views because he did not believe in the slave trade and it flesh was not his asset, just as Tony Stark is very set in his ways, and is a powerful man, yet craves adventure and doesn’t mind being impulsive.

While looking at the story with an Archetypal lens, I have noticed a few symbols that have significance in the book. The first symbol that stood out to me that I made a few connections in the book were Florens’ shoes. There was a lot of talk about her shoes, which surprised me at first because since she was a slave, I didn’t expect that she would have shoes worth talking about.

“When a child I am never able to abide being barefoot and always beg for shoes, anybody’s shoes, even on the hottest days […]. As a result, Lina says, my feet are useless, will always be too tender for life and never have the strong soles, tougher than leather, that life requires.” (Morrison)

I think that Florens’ shoes represent her life very closely. When she loses the boots that she currently is wearing, her life turns to pieces, just as the soles of her feat, since they weren’t used to the unruly ground. The symbolism that the boots were owned by Jacob is significant because when her boots get stolen, his protection vanishes as well.

“I will keep one sadness. That all this time I cannot know what my mother is telling me. Nor can she know what I am wanting to tell her. Mãe, you can have pleasure now because the soles of my feet are hard as cypress.” (Morrison)

Another symbol widely seen in A Mercy are the orphans. As a child, Jacob was an orphan,  as well as Lina and Sorrow after their respective tragic youths. Florens is not an Orphan, but she feels just as rejected by her mother. These archetypes display the truth about the world at this time in history of being very much independent and and need of acceptance, that many people didn’t get. Especially the slaves. It really hurts me to think about the hardships that all the slaves went through at this time, and just the feeling that they had against the rest of the world. The way I see it, is that the slaves at the time were almost orphans with contrast to the white people. They were of lesser value and worth, mostly separated from their families and left to fend for themselves, often tortured.

Although I have not finished the book, I feel that Florens, the main character will continue on her path to become “the hero”. Not the hero on the story, but the hero for herself. She has had feelings of abandonment, loss, suffering, and heartbreak, and losing her innocence at such a young age must have caused her so much internal wreckage. I think that she will have to overcome how the world views herself, and find a way to value herself and know that she is a strong, individual.

This novel so far has been a good one, and I expect to appreciate not only the real history of the slave trade back in the 60’s but also how to get more out of a novel by looking at it with a different perspective.

 

References

Morrison, Toni. 2016. A mercy. London: Vintage. Text.

Taylor- Guthrie, Danille K. (1994). Conversations with Toni Morrison. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi

 

Should Gr.12 University English be a Necessity for University Entry?

In high school, there is usually much distinction between the university-level and the College-level courses. But should students be required to take university-level Grade 12 English in order to enter any university program?

I for one, do not enjoy English class as it is very much opinion based and I feel that the course if a repeat of the one the year before, but despite that,  I believe that yes, in order for a student to be an option for acceptance into any university program university grade 12 English should be a requirement. I have learned so much about my style of learning and about how I like to write though my years taking English and I think that University programs, whether it be English, or somewhere far from it all can benefit and should have the prerequisite of grade 12 university-level English.

Taking any university-level course in high school provides a fast, hard working environment for students and makes it necessary for students to learn time management skills, and develop a good work ethic which will be needed to be brought into their university schooling.

Students, no matter what university program they decide to go into, must write papers, essays and analyses. Grade 12 university English is the most adequate course to ensure that all university students are ready for their English components in their programs. This Website introduces the topic that not only, are reading comprehension, writing and research skills learned, and adapted, but also cultural awareness skills. Students are introduced to different cultures and mannerisms through text and literature that help them grow as people, and these skills are necessary for university.

http://www.wordle.net/

Finally, in our day and age, equality is everything am I right? For this alone, since most university programs such a In order to even graduate, we all have to have four English credits, no matter what level it is, and with this in mind, we’re all learning the same general concepts, just with different methods and tasks. Englishes, social sciences, education, collegial studies and others use English skills and writing as a primary learning method. These types of programs will definitely need the highest English credit in high school, and because of this, ever other program should have the same initial requirement of grade 12 university English.

I believe that every university program should have the requirement of grade 12 university English, even for students planning on entering a math or science program due to all of the educational and life skills that it helps students adapt. Every student, no matter how much they don’t enjoy the class probably has found some great lessons through their literature and enjoyed writing a poem, short story or even essay throughout the course.

 

Thompson, Van. The Importance of English Courses for Everyday Life. Retrieved June, 05,2017.  <http://classroom.synonym.com/importance-english-courses-everyday-life-1876.html&gt;