Literature and Place

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Archive for March, 2011


Featured blogs for this week

Hi all,

You will be reading “Sonny’s Blues” this weekend and continuing to use Tuan’s notions about “intimate experiences” of place to discuss the significance of specific scenes in Baldwin’s story and the themes of the story as a whole. As I have written on the revised assignment schedule, you are not required to post a blog next week as we are not meeting on Thursday and as I expect that you will also be working hard on your second papers, taking into account both my comments and those of your peers.  So, in lieu of that post, you might write slightly more developed responses to your classmates’ posts during this round of featured blogs: What connections have the authors made that are successful? How else might they use the idea of “intimate experiences of place” to make sense of the “The Things They Carried”? (particularly, how do such experiences inform the style, tone, or theme of the story?) If these writers were going to compare how “intimate experiences of place” are treated in “The Things They Carried” and in “Sonny’s Blues,” what types of comparisons might they draw? 

Post #1:  “The Things They Carried”

       Throughout life one may hold on or carry something that has great meaning to them. In the short story “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien, the main characters were U.S. soldiers fighting in the Vietnam War. Throughout the story we see what they carry with them and why they choose to carry that particular item.  Tuan’s chapter titled “Intimate Experiences of Place”, we learn about intimate experiences and attachments. Both Tuan’s chapter and the short story by O’Brien relate with each other because attachment and intimatcy is shown.

       In the short story “The Things They Carried”, the main character is First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. Cross is in charge of his squad and throughout the main part of the story instead of concentrating on his men he wonders about a girl back home who he is madly in love with. The girl back home whose name is Martha, does not share the same feelings towards him but that does not make him stop thinking about her. During the story we learn why some of the soldiers carry a particular item or weapon with them. Many carry different types of guns with them for protection. Others carried photographs to remind them of their loved ones. Lieutenant Cross carries a pebble that Martha sent him through a letter. Once one of his men is killed however, Cross becomes overwhelmed with this sense of guilt that it was because of him that this soldier died. To get his mind back on the war and his men he burns all the letters and photographs from Martha. Instead of carrying the pebble with him, he now carries a sense of guilt. He believes that because of his unwillingness to pay attention to his squad Ted Lavender was killed.

       In Tuan’s chapter “Intimate Experiences of Place” we learn about attachment and why certain types of spaces are meaningful to us. We also learn about the relationship between a child and a parent. Tuan states “to the young child the parent is his primary “place.” (Tuan 138). The child depends on the mother or father for almost everything. Without the mother or father the child would not be able to survive because who would then feed and nurture them. We also learn that for many the “home” is where most intimate experiences happen. The home is where we live with the people closest to us. The home is our shelter and in it we sleep, eat and become close to the others living with us.

       In both Tuan’s chapter and the short story “The Things They Carried”, an attachment to something or someone is discussed. In Tuan’s chapter we learn that during the early stages of childhood the child is attached to the parents. Only as we get older this attachment with the parents fades away. As we get older we become more independent and therefore we depend less on our parents. As a child when we are hungry we depend on the parents to feed us. As we get older we go out on our own to get food when we are hungry. In the short story the soldiers felt attached to different materials that made them feel safe or happy. Many of them carried different weapons for safety and others carried materials that reminded them of home. From the two literature pieces the reader can learn that without a sense of attachment one can feel lost and unworthy.

Post #2: “The Things They Carried”

   “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien deals with a group of soldiers during the Vietnam War and the objects they “hump” everyday, particularly First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross. The men carry a variety of military items, however they also carry personal items which serve as reminders of what they left behind. Jimmy Cross carries letters, photographs, and keepsakes from his true love, Martha. These trinkets carry him into her world, along the Jersey Shore to where he can picture walking side by side by the water. Lieutenant Cross is constantly distracted by daydreams of Martha. In Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, Tuan notes that “intimate experiences lie buried in our innermost being so that not only do we lack the words to give them form but often we are not even aware of them” (Tuan 136). Lieutenant Cross’ fantasies of Martha overwhelm him to the point of taking him away from his duties, resulting in the death of one of his soldiers. In an attempt to redeem himself, he burns his memories of Martha. However, his thoughts are still with her. Tuan states that “for most people possessions and ideas are important, but other human beings remain the focus of value and the source of meaning” (Tuan 138). In essence, this means that while objects and structures may make a place, it is the people we associate them with that make it an intimate place and one we can actually call home. Jimmy Cross, being so attached to Martha, feels completely empty and alone in his current environment, craving only to be with her and therefore abandoning his responsibilities as First Lieutenant.

A reminder for this Thursday, March 31st

PLEASE BRING THREE (3) HARD COPIES of your draft of assignment #2 to class this Thursday IN PREPARATION FOR CLASSMATE INTERVIEWS.  Also, please email a copy of your draft as an attached Microsoft Word file to Dominique.Zino@qc.cuny.edu. I will respond to drafts electronically.

This week’s featured blogs

Your comments on each others’s posts thus far have been, overall, really thorough and insightful. (I hope the authors of the blog posts are reading them!) Please continue to weigh in this week on these two posts that incorporate ideas from Tuan’s chapter on “Time in Experiential Space.”  

Post #1: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

In Tuan’s chapter of “Time in Experiential Space”, he explains how people relate time with space.  Tuan states that people “differ in their awareness of space and time” in the way they develop in space (119).  He also states that {visual space tends to be focused and structured around an object” and continues to mention that “aural space is less focused” (119).  This is evident in Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” with the main character, Harry.   This story is also symbolic of the idea of dying.

Hemingway opens the story with a conversation between two people and we learn later on that this conversation is held between Harry and Helen.  We also discover that they are on an African safari and that Harry is hurt and they are waiting for a rescue plane to arrive.  Harry uses his moments of dying to reflect back on his life.  He realizes that he did not do as much as he had wishes he had done in his lifetime.  The author of this book said that this story reflects how Hemingway is having a hard time writing.

As I was reading these parts of the story, I remembered many movies having something similar occur in them.  In these movies, the picture would become fuzzier, until it had changed to another screen, either a flashback or flash-forward.  Tuan describes this mind roaming and he claims that “When we stand before a prospect, our mind is free to roam.  As we move mentally out to space, we also move either backward or forward in time”  (125).

Because “kilimanjaro” means and is symbolic for “The House of God”, I believe the plane in this story, is symbolic of the heavens.  They could have had help come in another form, such as an ambulance, but because the help is coming from the sky, suggests that “the house of God” is sending help.  I believe that the “help” is helping Harry die and go to heaven.

Post #2: “Death by Landscape”

In Margaret Atwood’s short story, “Death by Landscape”, the main character Lois, now an old woman, looks back on her childhood summers at Camp Manitou with her friend Lucy. In an extended flashback, Lois recalls her last canoe trip at the summer camp when Lucy mysteriously vanishes without a trace. With no possible explanation for Lucy’s disappearance, the camp counselor blames Lois, saying that she pushed her off a cliff. As a result, Lois spends the rest of her life haunted by the memory of her lost friend, unable to go near the wilderness without hearing Lucy’s voice. At the end of the story, while looking at her large collection of paintings, Lois begins to see Lucy in all of them and feels at ease, now realizing that “she [Lucy] is here. She is entirely alive” (Atwood 118).

The paintings in Lois’ house symbolize her memories and how no matter how much time passes, they do not change and are timeless. Because Lois can see her friend in all the paintings show that her memories of Lucy are still alive and well. The timeless nature of paintings is referenced in Yi-Fu Tuan’s chapter “Time in Experimental Space”. According to Tuan, paintings and photographs of landscapes leads to “a major reordering of time as well as of space”, meaning that capturing a scene in pictures changes the way we view them. They are no longer constrained by passing time and fleeting memories. For Lois, the paintings don’t just symbolize her memories, they serve as reminders, rejuvenating her memories of Lucy and keeping them alive. This is what Lois means in the last sentence in “Death by Landscape”. Her friend Lucy never died because Lois still remembers her and always will, at least until Alzheimer’s sets in.

This week’s featured blogs

Both featured blogs this week put Tuan to work in interesting ways. How might you expand on the discussion of the symbolic value of the windows in the Usher house (in relation to Tuan’s observations about architectural structures and light) in post 1, and, in post 2, what else might you add to the discussion of public and private spaces in Fitzgerald’s story?

Post #1: “The Fall of the House of Usher”
In the story of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allen Poe, the narrator, who is unknown, arrives at his childhood friend’s house, Roderick Usher. Roderick had sent his dear friend a letter stating that it is imperative that he come see Roderick because he was feeling very ill. When the narrator arrives at the house he notices how glum the house looked. Although it was a very unkempt house, with much deteriorating stones and a crack down the frame of the house, the narrator was very surprised to see it standing strongly in its condition. Upon walking into the room he sees a very pale and visibly sick Roderick. For the next couple of days the narrator stays at the lonely house of Usher to keep him company. His very sick sister dies while the narrator is staying at the house and they bury her under the house. Roderick suffers from great fear because he believes that his sister is haunting him because she was buried alive. In the middle of the night Roderick wakes up the narrator to tell him that his sister is still alive. Suddenly she appears behind the door of his bedroom and attacks Roderick and kills him. The once sturdy, yet decrepit, house split in half and crumbled to the ground.
I believe the house stood as a symbol of Roderick’s comfort. It was the house that he had lived in for a very long time with his family (although many of his family members had died). It was an architectural establishment that supplied him with everything he could need. It put a roof over his head, he had a warm bed, and he had his sister with him. Although the exterior and interior of the house was gloomy, this could have been how Roderick and his late-family wanted it to be. Tuan states, “Historically, interior space was dark and narrow. This was true not only of humble dwellings but also of monumental edifices… Architectural drawings and relics show that interior space was elaborated together with the fenestration of light… The light-flooded interiors of Baroque churches and halls were further efforts to explore the possibilities of a major and enduring concept of space” (Tuan 110).
It is possible that the way Roderick’s house let in light had a lot to do with how he wanted to live. He had a dark house with “vacant eye-like windows” (Poe, “The Fall of the House of Usher”). This means that the windows did not let in much light. They were a bit too small for the house. This was the way the house was constructed yet, for some reason, the Usher family was fond of it. All in all I believe that the Usher family was so dismal because that’s the type of people they were and that they picked their own fate in a sense. They were drawn to the dreary architectural structure of their own home, which had set their fate for them.

Post #2: “Babylon Revisited”

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Babylon Revisited,” the main character, Charlie, is attempting to put his life back together after a three-year rough patch that involved alcoholism, the collapse of his marriage, and the death of his wife. Now that he’s been sober for a year and a half and is financially stable despite the crash of the stock market, Charlie’s main goal is to regain custody of his daughter Honoria from his wife’s sister and brother-in-law. However, Charlie’s return to Paris only reminds him of the life he used to lead, and the various settings described in the story are very telling of the relationships between the characters.

            The first place Charlie visits is the bar he used to go to with his friends. It was a busy place, full of life, and now has hardly anyone in it. Tuan says in his chapter on “Architectural Space and Awareness” that “architecture is key to comprehending reality” (102). There is a strong connection between the attachment Charlie has to the physical place itself and to all the memories he has there. The contrast lies in the fact that the architectural space has remained the same, but that so much else has changed. As Tuan says, this forces Charlie to see the reality that, although he is back to where his past took place, much has changed including himself.

            Another important instance of physical surroundings having an effect on relationships is within Marion and Lincoln’s home. Tuan explains that “built environment clarifies social roles and relations” (102). This is especially true when it comes to people’s homes. Charlie notes how protected the children feel in Marion’s house, and it’s extremely significant that Charlie needs to enter someone else’s domain in order to obtain something that is his. At this point in time, Honoria’s guardians are Marion and Lincoln, and they have been more of parents to her than Charlie has. They are the parents of the household, and Charlie feels the strain of the relationship between them every time he enters the building.

            Tuan also speaks of a social awareness that comes with private and public domains. He says that everyone knows of the differences between “inside and outside, of intimacy and exposure, of private life and public space” (107). Unfortunately, some people are more conscious of these differences than others. The turning point in the story comes when Charlie’s boisterous friends from the past take the liberty to find Lincoln’s address and invite themselves over. They come in the middle of what started as a hopeful discussion about Honoria’s custody, and ruin Charlie’s chances of getting his child back. They were completely disrespectful of Charlie’s private life, and their loudness and disregard for someone’s intimate space shows that they weren’t concerned about interrupting anything of importance at all. They blurred the lines of behavior fit for “outside” and behavior fit for “inside,” and because of this, Charlie’s plan is ultimately ruined.

The Simpson’s Ode to Edgar Allan Poe

Matt Groening knows his Gothic literature…

The Simpson\’s Halloween Ode to Poe 

(Link courtesy of Mahadeo Khemraj)

Small group notes from our discussion of symbol and mythological space

Here are your responses (with minor editing):

Group 1:

The Lottery – risk, sacrifice

Old Man Warner – old values

Billy and Davy Hutchinson – naïve and loyalty to traditions

Billy and Davy Hutchinson together represent the strong faith to local customs. Billy stones his own wife without any remorse or sorrowful good bye. He just follows the custom without questioning it, ignoring his wives pleas about being cheated. Bill is also a common name where there is a Bill Jr. symbolizing that the average man is subjected to this lottery and can be replaced. The narrator says, “Mr. Graves took the child’s hand and removed the folded paper from the tight fist and held it while little Dave stood next to him and looked up at him wonderingly” (251). Davy unknowingly participates in this local ritual representing innocence that follows what they are told where Bill can be seen as the role model who passes on these ideals. Prof. Zino mentions that the name Hutchinson has historical significance. The Hutschinson family, during the time of Salem witch trials, accused many women of being witches.

The lottery represents risk and the people’s willingness to maintain their peace and prosperity by any means necessary, similarly to the people of Omeleas. Old man Warner said, “Used to be saying about ‘Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon’” (250). We think that the lottery takes place as a way to pick a sacrifice for the maintenance

Old Man Warner represents the other end of the spectrum of loyalty. He says, “It’s not the way it used to be. People ain’t the way they use to be” (252). Old Man Warner is constantly pointing out how things have changed and how people are trying to change the ritual. He wants to keep customs the old way and prevent any new changes.

Group 2:

The black box is a symbol of life, death, and the fate of the people in the village. It symbolizes their fear of change and adherance to tradition despite the fact that [the box itself] is tattered and stained. It is always hidden when not in use; out of sight, out of mind. This speaks of hypocrisy and inconsistency because if it’s a tradition the villagers should be proud and want it displayed. Many aspects of the tradition have been lost but they are adament about keeping the old box.

Mrs. Delacroix’s name means “of the cross” and implies sacrifice. She represents the mob mentality because, despite her friendship with Tessie, she patricipates [in the stoning]. She also represnts the hypocrisy of the village in that she was very nervous at the thought that it might be her but tells Tessie to “be a good sport” when she is about to be killed.

Mr. Summers is a symbol of the seasonal coming of the lottery each year. He represents… [the group pinned him as the “good” character in a  battle of good vs. evil, yet that does not seem totally consistent with the actual functions he plays in the ritual, as described in the story… extra credit to anyone who reads this and offers a more plausible suggestion for what Mr. Summers symbolizes….]

Group 3:

Boys gathering stones and pebbles: this action foreshadows the eventual climax of the plot. The way the children guard the stones seems to imply that they want to protect this tradition.

Mr. Graves symbolizes “the grim reaper.” His responsibilities include guarding the box and handing out the marked papers to the Hutchinson family that received the black dot.

The village symbolizes the persistence of tradition and ignorance. Its residents seem to act as one entity and the village as a whole symbolizes continuity, commitment to ritual and “fairness,” and an aversion to change. Though the ritual is deadly, the village still does it because it’s trying to show neighboring villages the importance of retaining tradition.

Good work, folks!

This week’s featured blogs

Both of the featured blogs for this week are on “The Lottery.”

What’s working in each of these blogs? How might each discussion of myth be developed through the mention of specific symbols in the story? 

Post #1

In Tuan’s chapter of “Mythical Space and Place” he mentions how people created symbolic meanings for many different things such as cardinal directions and visible celestial bodies (Tuan93-95). It shows how nothing has meaning until we give it meaning and anything can be unimportant until it’s acknowledged as something to be withheld in our hearts. In doing so we create our own world that may not make sense scientifically but it makes sense morally and it sure as hell allows people to live way more comfortably or uncomfortably than they would have thought possible.
In Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” we see Tuan’s concept of symbolic meaning given to something during the actual Lottery in the story. The lottery itself is a tradition that takes place every summer on the 27th of June in a certain few towns. During the lottery the entire town gathers where each family takes one folded paper from a black box. Whoever gets the devilish paper with the black dot on it gets the privilege to be stoned mindlessly by the entire town including friends and family. It’s a traditional event that’s fun for the whole family with the exception of the person being stoned. In the story we see how people gave such a powerful symbolic meaning to this ridiculous lottery even though they detest it deep down. Nobody goes against it and acts as if it were a normal yearly event that mustn’t be missed. Beneath the acting we see the villagers dislike the lottery when we see Mrs. Hutchinson arriving late to the lottery (Jackson 249). She makes excuses as to why she was late even though you could tell she really didn’t want to partake in the event itself. We also hear a few people murmuring among the townsfolk gossiping about how other villages were “considering giving up the lottery” (Jackson 250). Over here we see how a manmade symbol can become an object of fear as they were almost testing their peers to see who might happen to agree that giving up the lottery might be a good idea.
Obviously nobody really likes this whole lottery business and it serves no purpose except to withhold ancient tradition. It’s apparent that people in the past got a real kick out of stoning the people around them legally and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lottery every week. It most likely served the purpose of pinpointing the people who were evil among the village and cleansing them with by bludgeoning their faces with jagged earthen clasts. This story shows just how unreasonable people can be when it comes to long time symbolic traditions. They’d even harm their own family if it meant withholding proper ancient traditions that seemed to be all the rage at the time. Also, I laughed at the end of the story, didn’t expect the lottery to result in a stoning of all things.

Post #2

The Lottery, Localized Values and Beliefs

Through Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” the reader can clearly make a connection towards Tuan’s ideas in his chapter, “Mythical Space and Place.” One quote that not only supports but summarizes the village people and their values would be on page 86, where Tuan states: “The spatial component of a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities.” Throughout the reading, one learns that these village people (who seem to be secluded from other villages) take up a practice where they draw papers and one “lucky” person will have the privilege to be stoned to death. As words come from Old Man Warner’s mouth, “Seventy-seventh year I been in the lottery” (Jackson, 250) one could see that this tradition and the values of these village people have been implemented greatly for quite some time. These village people have the audacity to come as a group, pile up stones from round to sharp edged ones and carry out the act of unjustified killings every week. Tuan helps us understand that these localized people have created such a long tradition of choosing a scapegoat every week and condemning them to death. With remarks like, “Be a good sport, Tessie,” or “Time sure goes fast,” shows the reader that this tradition is some type of activity that these people enjoy and go forth with every week. In regards to space, the villagers tend to lessen their community of members each week, one by one.
Tuan also speaks to us briefly about the Chinese people and their community as a whole. He explains to us that the Chinese use certain symbols within their culture to help them establish their mythological beliefs. For example, they use the symbol “White Tiger,” which symbolizes weapons, war, and executions (Tuan, 93). We also learn from Tuan’s reading that the Chinese are at the center of space and surrounding them are different symbols, good and bad. Something that seems rather interesting in connection to the Chinese way of life and their symbols is the black box in Jackson’s short story (Jackson, 250-252). Black not only symbolizes dark, but danger and death. The villagers, one by one, pick a piece of paper out of this “death box” and see if they are alive or dead at that exact moment. When chosen, everyone around that condemned person surrounds him or her in the shape of a circle. After the formation (along with giving that person his or her final space of life), the community as a whole throws stones towards that scapegoat.
With that being said, one could clearly see the connection in Tuan’s reading and the idea of localization, values, and activities in Shirley Jackson’s, “The Lottery.”

Mythical Spaces

To continue our discussion from class….

If we consider “mythical space” in Tuan’s terms, as “a world view, a conception of localized values within which people carry on their practical activities,” in what way(s) is mythical space present in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”?

Remember that the notion of localized values as a form of myth will also be very relevant to our reading for Thursday: “The Lottery.”

Lastly, I thought some of you might enjoy this video, a pretty creative interpretation of Hawthorne’s story by students in a college English course like ours (the audio is a little shoddy at points but the subtitles help):

Young Goodman Brown Meets Star Wars

http://www.youtube.com/embed/0BNqZTfGJP8

Important reminders and featured blogs for Tuesday, March 8th

Please remember to turn in your final papers on Tuesday with your draft (the one I have marked) and the two peer review sheets (which, in most cases, I stapled to your draft). Please paper clip or staple these documents behind the final hard copy. Also, please consult the assignment sheet to be sure all aspects of the assignment are complete and all formal requirements have been met before submitting your final paper.

Now that you’ll be turning in your first paper, we’ll move into our next phase of the course. At this point, I would like to see everyone working to minimize the space devoted to summary in their weekly responses (we’ve all read the short stories!) and to focus on a) applying one idea about the experiential perspective, place, and space from Tuan to the meaning of the story,  b) describing the significance of one scene that you think the story absolutely needs in order to be meaningful, and/or c) thinking about how one particular literary element can be discussed in light of our understanding of  “space” or “place” (in addition to character, setting, narrative point of view, and plot, we’ll add tone, theme, and symbol into our conversations in the next few weeks).

As you read “Young Goodman Brown” for Tuesday, you should also try to take a look at the brief critical casebook material on pages 429-435 of your reader. We’ll be discussing some of that material during Tuesday’s class.

Now, without further ado…this week’s featured blogs.

(Of the options I mentioned above, both of these weekly responses are most successful dealing with option a: the application of the experiential perspective to the general themes of a story).

Post #1: “The Open Boat”

In chapter six of Tuan’s Space and Place he analyses the innate ability humans have and how it is enhanced through knowledge. Tuan explains how a human learns to familiarize themselves in unknown environments through patterns and cues in order to define space/place and from experience one can learn to associate to their surroundings (69). A great example of this idea can be found in the short story by Stephen Crane’s “The Open boat”. The story focuses on four men that are stranded on a dinghy navigating in the open waters, searching for land. Not an easy task to accomplish for the average man, but for a captain of a ship it may seem as the perfect setting. The captain should be well informed on how to handle their situation. As Tuan would explain someone whom has made “ocean crossing trips- is bound to know how a craft feels-as it alters the course” (81), experience is what granted him the role of the boat’s leader.

The captain is well aware of the space they are in and in order to succeed he relies on what he has mentally stored to formulate spatial concepts to further enhance his spatial ability (Tuan 75) In the story the captain places the men accordingly and directs the angles and position of the dinghy (Crane 186). The captains ability to foresee the outcome of these commands have been guided by routine actions and as Tuan describes “a person needs to only to have a general sense of direction to the goal and to know what to do next on each segment of the journey” (Tuan 72). The crew follows on their sense of the direction, but knowledge of the direction of the current, the shapes, the different colors the waters form when hitting the edge of the dinghy and “the brown mats of seaweed-remained stationary, informed the men the boat was making progress slowly toward the land”(Crane 189) are all factors leading the men continue their journey optimistically.

“Kinesthetic and perceptual experience as well as the ability to form concepts are required for the change if space is large” (Tuan 73) The captain and his crew understood the dynamics of the ocean compared to the small dinghy they inhabited and focused their learned knowledge with natural spatial ability to steady their course to land.

Post #2:  “Cathedral”

In the chapter “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place,” Tuan cautiously dissects the infinite notion of human knowledge, illuminating the numerous forms, or stages, that mingle with an individual’s ability to reflect and operate. Tuan states, “Walking is a skill, but if I can “see” myself walking and if I can hold that picture in mind so that I can analyze how I move and what path I am following, then I also have knowledge(Tuan 68).” “Knowledge” can act as a transferable entity, transmitted from one individual to the next. With specific knowledge, a human being can function consequently, complete with intent and schemata. Illustrating what “knowledge” truly entails, can pose as a task of great intricacy, but Tuan’s chapter certainly discusses the term effectively.

In Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral,” we examine a story through the narration of a rather ordinary man. He encounters a blind gentleman, whom his wife invited to sleep by their house after the passing of his wife of eight years. The narrator explicitly states that he had never encountered a “blind man” before this visit. With this in mind, the narrator seemed a bit troubled by the presence of the blind man, somewhat disconcerted.

The blind man would appear to be one’s essential focal point when attempting to agree with Tuan’s principles regarding “space” and “place, but focus on the narrator is critical as well. The narrator identifies with the ability of sight. The comprehension of blindness would pose as a near impossible task for him, as he has never been bound of sight before. He has the “knowledge” of vision, unlike the blind man who does not. The narrator has the ability to describe certain fixtures to the blind man (the cathedral on T.V.), thus passing over “knowledge” to another individual, but he cannot envision blindness as a lifestyle. Throughout the story the narrator attempts to relate with the blind visitor, but is seemingly rendered incapable of doing so, therefore agreeing with Tuan’s principles regarding “Spatial ability, Knowledge, and Place.”

Human Knowledge is somewhat subjective. One may claim they can relate with another, but that’s seldom the case. Rather than veering towards a more philosophical approach, I will end my discussion on the topic of “Space” and the blind man. The blind man could not see, therefore one would believe he has no sense of space or place, but that is not the case. Tuan speaks about an individual’s ability to reside and navigate in their own “place” in previous chapters. Weather it’s their home or elsewhere. The blind man still lives with the general concepts of “space” and “place.” He may not have a literal sense of sight, but he does contain the knowledge, or memory, of how to regard certain places. He remembers distance and states in “Cathedral” that he has the capability to be comfortable in an environment, even a place he is not familiar with. This stems back to my opening paragraph where I state; ability comes partly due to the ‘passing of knowledge from one to another’.


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