American Literature from Civil War to Present
Submission Instructions: Your main discussion post should be substantive (at least 300 words). Use quotations to support your points, but make sure to balance them with your own original ideas. Please engage two of your classmates in their forum posts to help further our conversation, responses to classmates should be in at least 100-150 words each.
This Week’s reading:
Read one of the following pieces from “Other Perspectives” in American Literature Since the Civil War.
“The Wrysons” by John Cheever
“Going After Cacciato” by Tim O’Brien
“Somewhere for Everyone” by John Grisham
“Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor
“Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin
“The Angel Esmerelda” by Don Delillo
Part I: Unlike many of our authors in this class, video footage of Truman Capote abounds. Find a video of him. Post the link in the forum, and tell us a little about your perception of him. How might he have fit in 1960s Kansas, and how might the cultural differences, for better or worse, affected his ability “to get the story”?
Part II: As Truman Capote got to know many of the characters involved in the story behind In Cold Blood, his depictions were undoubtedly influenced. Select one character from the movie that you believe was portrayed in a different light and discuss why you think this character was skewed. Keep in mind that there are a lot of possibilities to consider. Capote’s own feelings could influence the work, the character may be too distasteful (for a variety of reasons), or the exaggeration could simply make a better read. Since we are dealing with a film, the possibility is also there that the change translates better to film. You are welcome to investigate this possibility as well. Please support your ideas. In this assignment, you may want to read other reports of the crime or excerpts from the book.
Part III: Choose one of the literary pieces this week (found in the “Other Perspectives” section of your text). Tell us about the point of view. Do you get the feeling that you are hearing from someone within the society being represented, or are you seeing what an outsider sees? It could even be a mixture, but whatever your conclusion, you will need to support it with examples from the text.
Student Response #1 – Jared
Part I: Truman Capote was a very interesting character to say the least. He seems like a fun loving guy, but at the same time blunt and to the point. He also seems very compassionate about the work he does. However, I also got the impression from listening to him speak, he was a little full of himself. His personality suggest that he couldn’t be trusted either. Of course, this is just what I have perceived in viewing the short films presented over the internet. As far as him fitting into Kansas during the 1960’s, I don’t think this went over to well. The most obvious reasoning being his sexual orientation. This was a time when rights were being fought for African Americans, and were no different for the rights of Gays and Lesbians. Capote was also thought of as a liberal. I believe these definitely negatively affected his ability to “get the story”. FYI, his voice drove me crazy!
Part II: After reading a few excerpts from the story, as well as reviews, I would say that both of the main characters of the book, Richard Hickock and Perry Smith were greatly skewed. I say this, because some of the recounts of the occurrence were completely different and exaggerated from what actually took place. The reasoning for this, is undoubtedly the financial gain. This book raked in nearly 60 million bucks during the 1960s. This is an insane amount of money during this time. By doing so, this also may have made for a better read. However, I don’t agree with publishing things known to be false.
Part III: The literacy piece I chose to discuss is “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin. This story depicts the life of a young heroin addict. Reading the story, I felt connected to the problems and issues that addicts face. I felt the story was very descriptive and as if I were looking in from the outside. I appreciated that the story was told from a family member who has to witness the destruction of his brother. This somehow made the story more believable and appealing to me.