Upon The Burning Of Our House by Anne Bradstreet


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Maya Angelou went from living in a place where the religious and pious were the ones who garnered respect, to an environment in which gamblers, hustlers, prostitutes, and gangsters were the ones who held the power. I too had a similar experience when I moved from my quiet hometown to the big city when I was eight years old. I learned quickly, as Maya did, that the more diverse aspects of life I was able to experience, the more well rounded a person I could become. I could also relate, in many aspects, to the part of the story in which Maya and her brother attend a non-segregated high school in California, until at 16 years old Bailey, gets his own apartment. Subsequently, Maya is forced to spend the summer with her father and his malicious girlfriend, Dolores, in a trailer park. After an argument with Delores comes to blows, Maya runs away from home and vows to make it on her own. I too had a brother that moved away from home at an early age, and I have experienced problems with stepfamilies for most of my life. Though my experiences have never reached the tragic depths that Maya’s did, I can unremittingly sympathize with her plight and empathize with her pain.

After years of reading Anne Bradstreet’s marvelous poetic verse, I have learned that time is no barrier to parallel lifestyles. Anne's inner struggles between religious piety and the acceptance of natural human failings mirrors the crevice in my own soul. Her moralistic desire to banish her "unfit" child surely caused a torrent of inner-conflict between her maternal instincts and her virtuous character. Ironically, however, by expressing these emotional thoughts in her poetry, she is actually portraying herself as an unfit Puritan, in that Puritans are instructed to honor the traditional family and embrace all traditional family roles and responsibilities. My religious upbringing inspires the same types of conflicts and contradictions from which the emotional distress can only be justly expressed on paper.

Perhaps the most palpable examples of Anne Bradstreet's disunity with her religious faith are displayed in Verses Upon The Burning Of Our House (July 18th, 1666). Throughout this poem, Anne tries desperately hold onto her optimism and trust in God's will, but cannot keep from bringing her true feelings of despair and resentment to light. The poem concludes with the following lines:

"Yea, so it was, and so 'twas just.

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It was his own; it was not mine.

Far be it that I should repine."

By nature, the expressions "far be it" and "so it was" are ones of indignation. Although Anne is "saying all the right things" there is unmistakable twinge of sarcasm within her "gratitude". It would be unnatural for any human being to feel nothing but gratitude upon the burning of their home and all of their valued possessions. However for Anne, these natural human emotions conflict with her deep-rooted belief that The Father knows best.

Quite a bit can be learned from Jo Ann Gibson Robinson’s experiences as well. The Montgomery bus Boycott was a highly significant event in the civil rights movement because it caught the attention of the entire nation. People around the country were made aware of the event because it was launched on such a massive scale and lasted for an arduous 381 days. The boycott moreover set the tone for the entire civil rights movement, in particular giving activists such as Jo Ann Robinson the confidence to believe in and continue to instigate organized, peaceful action towards an aim of unprecedented levels of reform.

I found the book to be inspiring and I feel it has the ability to motivate and encourage people of all races and generations. The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It; The Memoir of Jo Ann Gibson Robinson treats readers to a compelling visualization and a startling inside look at one of the most significant periods in history, as well as the remarkable woman who was part of it.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nurse Ratched represents the establishment, and is described by Kesey as “enormous, capable of swelling up bigger and bigger to monstrous proportions. She is the ward superintendent, the ultimate authority demanding obedience and perfect order from everyone”. This is the author’s way of conveying that she is powerful like the establishment, and like the government, she makes and enforces the rules. Though fictional in nature, there is an obvious parallel between Kesey’s views of political oppression and Richard Box’s. Box’s perceptions of community issues, along with his views on the theory and practice of public service to citizens and professional administrators are directed toward the goal of improving the quality of public governance through open dialogue and increased citizen accessibility to the process of creating public policy. In simple terms, the transition towards citizen governance needs to revolve around the aspiration of both government officials and citizens for a pronounced shift from "government centric" to "citizen centric" rule. This is a theme that can actually be seen in all of the works discussed here, in that the key to obliterating oppression is to open the lines of communication on an even playing field.


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