Similar Literatures

While reading the Iliad by Homer, I found the poem so similar to a poem that not only me but many Persian people are grown up with, the Shahname.

Shahname is one of the greatest masterpieces in Iran’s literature. Hakim Abul-Ghasem Frowsy dedicated thirty years of his life (979-1010 A.D) to make such an astonishing 60,000-verse piece. Shahname is divided into three parts: first part, the mythical age, is the explanation of how the world and human came to existence and then talks about the first men who became the kings of the world and how human started to make home, discovered fire and developed civilization. The second part, which is the heroic age of the Shahname, deals with stories of the great pahlavanan, the knights or heroes, of Iran and their extraordinary power. The third part, the historical age, explains about the history of Iran from Ashkanian dynasty until the time when Islam enters Iran. The second part of the Shahname is where we can find many commonalities with the Iliad.

However unlike the Iliad, whose characters are gods and goddesses, Frowsy has chosen his characters human beings, the characteristics and the suggested messages are quiet similar to each other. Likely to Iliad, the Shahname has super power antagonists who are fighting with each other every time. For example, the same as Achilles, Esfandyar in the Shahname is the hero that his mother washes his body in a magical spring in order to keep him powerful and undying, but when he is under the water, fearing from water he closes his eyes and that makes his weak point (like Achilles and his heel). The Hector of the Shahname is Siavush, a handsome and noble pahlavan that before his birth the predictors had predicted him as someone who brings destruction and bad luck. Siavush’s father, Keikawus, is an obstinate and selfish king. He kills many people for his hunger for power.

Other than same characters, the Iliad and the Shahname try to show the people’s believe in unchangeable fate and destiny. Even after Esfandyar washes his body in the magical water to save his life, the death does not leave him alone. Esfandyar gets killed by his father-in-law, like Hercules who finally dies. The other tangible similarity is the struggle between good and bad during the story. The good and the bad might be the inner thoughts of the characters or the devils or the cruel god or the monster or Simorq (a kind on bird which is the symbol of knowledge in Persian literature).

Learning the similarities we find not only the Iliad and the Shahname but also many other stories and poems which have been inherited orally are similar to each other.

The Bow and the Arrow

The poem “On Children,” by Kahlil Gibran, addresses one the most common issues that most families struggle with: difference between generations. Although the children receive their genes from parents, Kahlil Gibran believes that parents shouldn’t assume that their children belong to them. He says parents can give their love to their children but they cannot expect their children, who are going to live in the future, to have the same thoughts and beliefs as them, to obey them, and live like them.

This exact issue is the cause of many conflicts among the parents and teenage or youth in many families, especially in our era. For instance, in many developing countries, children want to have fashionable hairstyle like their favorite actor or singer, while their parents hate those hairstyles and it seems very strange to them if their children wear torn trousers similar to David Bekham’s. When the children talk about their foreign friends in Facebook and the funny links they share, parents reminisce their memories of youth and their friends by looking at old photo albums.  Parents wait half of their life to see their sons and daughters wearing black suits as grooms or white gowns as brides, but their children simply refuse to marry because they are not sure they can live forever with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Mothers expect their daughters to become a good housewife and serve their in-laws in a very proper way as she had done in the past. However, she blames her daughter who wants to divorce her husband because she thinks they no longer understand each other. The Father feels he has wasted his life over his newly married son who wants to live independently in a separate house or apartment. The father had made his own father happy the day he brought his wife to the house. As the parents spend whole their life bringing up and supporting the children, they come to believe that their children completely belong to them. Therefore, they feel strong authority over their children.

Kahlil Gibran, however, says parents should accept the fact that their children have a different world, for they live in the future. He depicts parents as an arrow through witch children are sent forth toward their future. I think if parents stop blaming their children for their different lifestyle or ideology and try to be close friends to their children instead of acting like owners, they will come to know their children’s world better. It doesn’t matter if they walk through different paths as long as they love each other and care for each other.

The Gods and Goddesses

Many times in the past, I had heard about the city of Troy and its big walls and strategic location in ancient Greece.  I had heard about the war which lasted for a long time, and how the city has been surrounded by the enemy. The Trojans, people of Troy, had resisted during all those years of war, and their enemy was about to give up and start moving back toward home, finishing the battle. But, something unexpected happened. Some wise, clever guy from the enemy’s side came up with an interesting plot to reverse the result of the war. In fact, the idea was giving a giant wooden horse as a gift to the people of the Troy. Pretending they were leaving the battle field, the enemy ended the siege. The Trojans, happy with their achievement, accepted the gift. At night, while all the Trojans were asleep, the enemy solider got out of the wooden horse and opened the gates of the city to their fellow warriors from inside. The enemy started massacring all the citizens of the Troy and looting the city.

In those times, I didn’t know the enemies of the Trojans were the Greece, or the war started because of a beautiful woman being stolen by Paris, the princess of the Trojans, or that the story has been part of an oral tradition being told and transferred from generation to generation in ancient Greece. I had heard the name Iliad, and I knew it was written by Homer, as one of the master piece of literature from ancient Greece, but it was until this week in reading and writing class that I learned the story was written down 800 years before the birth of Jesus Christ for the first time. While reading Iliad, I learned more about Gods and Goddesses of ancient Greece mythology, for example Zeus, as the god of the sky and the most powerful god in the universe or Apollo, the god of music, poetry, sun, and light. The goddess had also power and important role in controlling the balance in the universe. For instance, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, crafts and the battle, while Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. In Iliad, all these gods and goddesses have many of human characteristics. For example, they have sexual relationship with each other, and sometimes with humans too. Or they become jealous and become enemy of each other. Another interesting thing that I learned about these gods was that they do not have absolute authority over and knowledge about everything. Zeus can easily be distracted from his duty by his wife Hera who knows about the Zeus weakness point. I really enjoyed reading the first chapter of the book.

The Giving Mother

When I was reading the poem,” The Giving Tree,” the tree resembled a ‘mother’ to me.  The characteristics of the tree presented in the poem are similar to the characteristics that a mother possesses. As we think of our mother’s love, we feel that her love is incomparable and unique. In the same way, the indulgence showed by the tree to a child reflects some kinds of motherhood we courtesy that any other members of the family could never do. I have no offense to any male parents, but today I want to talk about  mothers’ love, a pure love.

In my view there are some questions that always come to our mind; for example, how can a mother be so kind and generous to her child? How can she only think of  her child’s happiness without thinking about herself? These questions come time and again whenever we see our mother’s infinite love. Moreover, I think there isn’t any exact answer for these questions. If we, girls, ask our mothers these questions, then they often answer by saying, “You will know it when you become a mother.”

Have you ever thought about the essay “Poverty,” which shows the most critical condition of the poor people who allude to the love and sacrifice of a mother to her children? The narrator, the mother, is always worried about her children’s lives and their future. In spite of their extreme poverty, whatever she does is directly or indirectly devoted to comfort her children.

Not only “Poverty,” even in another definition essay “What is a family?” the narrator has shown how her mother buys her new shoes with a skirt in spite of her promise; how she is flattered and excited when she meets with her daughter’s boyfriend as if it was her own date. These may be small things of life but these small things altogether act as crucial moments in life to spread happiness in a family. When these small moments are missed, the connection between a mother and her child seems dim and unhappy. For example, the relationship between Lena St. Clair and Ying-ying St. Clair in The Joy Luck Club is not so strong because both the mother and her child are not able to savor the short moments of love and care. Though they do not share their feelings with each other, the mother shown in The Joy Luck Club is always a person who wants to dedicate herself to make her child’s life happy satisfied. Therefore, this  reason convinced me to call every mother ‘ a giving mother.’

Myth of Adam and the devil

Adam, who was the first human being the god had made by soil. When the God made Adam with so much beauty, all the parts of his body were like ours, but there wasn’t any bellybutton. After making him, the God summoned all the angels and asked to pay homage to him. The angels were hesitating to do that because they were thinking themselves as superior. The God could understand their thoughts, and made a plan to make them understand that he had made Adam as the best creature of the universe. Then the God asked some questions to all the angels, but they could not answer the questions. Then he asked the same questions to Adam, and Adam answered all the questions. The angels were surprised seeing his intelligence and asked for pardon from the God as they misunderstood him and overestimated themselves. After that, all the angels bowed down before Adam to show their homage and obedience to the God except Azazil.  Azazil was an angel who was very obedient to the God and all the time he prayed to Him. The God liked him most for this and it made him so arrogant and proud. He refused to pay homage to Adam saying this, “I am the best angel and how can I bow down in front of a human who is not more qualified than me!?” Saying this he spat on Adam. The spit fell on the middle of the body. The god became very angry and cursed the angel. The angel turned into the Devil. When Azazil was an angel he was very handsome, and after turning into the Devil he became very ugly. After that the God ordered another angel to dig a hole to take out the spit. Then the angel dug a hole and that’s why we have a hole in our belly which we called bellybutton. With the spit mixed soil, the angel made a dog and that’s why the dog is considered as impure animal in Islam and it is very obedient to its master like its creator is. The devil was exiled from the heaven and swore that he would be dedicated to make all the human beings do the evil deeds. That’s why people do the evil deeds.

Not Fate but What We Make

When I conceive of the word “fate”, one of my friends’ dialogue comes into my mind, “Not fate but what we make.” This is a saying that my friend repeats again and again. I like his quote, and I do think in the same way. If I had to rely on fate for things to happen, I would have never been able to do whatever I have done and become whoever I am until now. I personally think that if you do something vigorously,  the results turn out to be successful. It is not that you are lucky; instead, it is your hardwork that has been shown. In my point of view, luck is the only time when you don’t perform any uphill struggle, and you get a chance to enjoy the comfort for free. The people who win a lottery can be considered as lucky, but not the people who get a job in some reputed organizations. They are selected among the hundreds of employees because of the qualities they possess, requirements they fulfilled, and the interest they showed.

I understand that the concept of fate has been taught to us by our parents and grandparents since our childhood. As we also see in the chapter “Half and Half,” An-mei believes in fate, and she even wants her daughter to believe in it. I guess if Rose Hsu had been in China, the probability of her believing in the fate would have been higher. As she would be surrounded by many people who think whatever happens in life depends on  fate, then she would also think in the same way. Therefore, her mind would also be set according to Chinese culture. Furthermore, she would blame her fate, for whatever condition she was been facing then.

Sometimes, when people fail, they blame their fate and do nothing to correct their mistakes. It is not the way; fate doesn’t decide our happiness or sadness; it is we who will make the things to become possible. For me, fate is the only condition when we are lucky, and luck is not similar to fate. Individuals totally depending on fate for things to happen are sure to be demoralized by their failures. In conclusion, I think no one will achieve satisfying success if they consider themselves to be lucky without any hard work.

Response to ‘Two Kinds’

In the chapter ‘Two Kinds’, the clash between Jing-Mei and her mother exposed the fact that pressurizing someone to do something that he or she did not love could not bring his or her success what was expected. Suyuan, Jing-Mei’s mother’s opinion was that everyone could be a prodigy. Jing-Mei was forced to do various things as her mother’s expectation towards her that she could be a prodigy. Her mother was motivated by watching programs and reading stories about young prodigies and used to tell about these to Jing-Mei to attract her attention towards that view she could be like them if she practiced. Jing-Mei was compared with other young talented girls, especially with Waverly, daughter of one of her mother’s friends who was a ‘Chess-champion’. However, Jing-Mei refused to try to become a prodigy because she was tired of being that, and wanted to be what really she was.

In my life, I also faced same type situation once. After passing the higher secondary examination, my mother expressed her expectation towards me that she wanted me to be a doctor. However, I did not want to be a doctor, I wanted to get admitted in a public university. Despite my wish, I studied for medical admission, but I could not concentrate in my study because it did not come from my mind. I tried to concentrate, but I could not. I know I could not be a good doctor because I had no intention to choose this field for my higher education. My mother tried to convince me by telling the stories of respected doctors, and how they reached in that position. She told me if I kept trying to get admitted in a medical college, then I could be achieved this position in the society like them. I just wanted to tell my mother that it was not a good expectation of her to me because I did not like me to be a doctor. However, my mother’s expectation towards me unintentionally forced me to study for medical admission, but I know I could not get chance because I had no aspiration for that. It just did not strike my mind. Consequently, my suspicion came true. My name was not in the list of selected students for medical college. I could remember how my mother’s expectation towards me just broke down. I saw the change in her face; it was expressed that she was frustrated. I expected her to say something rude, or harsh towards me, but she was just shut down.

When I read this chapter, I found similarity between Jing-Mei and me. We could not fulfill our mother’s expectation towards us. The fact was that Jing-Mei’s story is fictional, but my story was real.

Response to “Half and Half”

In the world we can divide people into two parts. One who believes that what happens in one’s life is made by the God. It is already decided that what will happen in one’s life and no one can change it. No one knows what will happen at tomorrow. That’s mean they believe in fate. The people of the other part believe that they can do anything if they try. They believe that God will give them everything if they try to get. They have expectation from the God that the God will not dishearten them. That’s mean they have faith that the ending of their deed will be in their deed will be in their favor and the God will do this. “Half and Half” in the chapter of Joy Luck Club written by Amy Tan here the fate and the faith is reflected by the characters. Here Rose Hsu Jordan who is the daughter of An-Mei–Hsu prefers fate. Actually she believes in fate. She married a person and when he proposed her to marry him; she does not tell him that she doesn’t know whether she loves him. She just watches and let things to be happened and even when her husband wants to get divorced she doesn’t take any step to save her marriage. Another thing is that when her brother drowns in the sea, she doesn’t do anything and let things to be happened. On the other hand, her mother believes that the God is always on favor of us and always fulfill one’s wish if one tries. That’s why, when her son drowns, she never believe that the God can do anything wrong with her by snatching away her son and she searches in the sea with the expectation that the God will return her child.

When I read this chapter “Fifty and Fifty”, I was thinking that Rose believes in fate and An-Mei in faith, but I believe in both the fate and the faith that means fifty fifty! When I didn’t get chance in Dhaka University only for 0.24 marks it was my fate not to get chance there. I thought like that because I had studied hard for three months before the exam but my hard work went in vain. I also believe in getting things by hard work so that I studied harder to get chance in the AUW. At last my hard work won.

A Lesson through “Half and Half.”

According to “half and half “it clearly reveals that Rose was careless about making decisions in her own life even in her personal needs.  What we do when we fail to make plan is that we plan to fail.  As a result, she had to face the consequences of those problems that ultimately led her to end up in divorce.  The lesson that this theme teaches is that always we have to learn to be independent without relying on others and to make our own plans by over selves.  This is because we are the one going to live and we are the one going to face the consequences at the end.

The first mistake was done by her when she failed to make her decision about her own marriage.  When Ted told, “Let my mother decide what is right?” to Rose, she should have disagreed with that idea.  That was before her marriage; therefore, she could have taken her own decision whether to marry Ted or to marry someone else, or she could have at least thought a little more about that saying. Why should Ted’s mother decide what is right and what is wrong?  Why can’t Rose decide about that? Does not Rose know what is right and what is wrong?  Is not she matured enough to think about that or does not she have morals?  If not, from Ted’s mother’s perspective, is it the way of treating her daughter-in-law?

The second mistake that Rose did was letting Ted make all the decisions during the life with him before he forced her to make decisions.  She should not have given all the responsibility of making decisions to Ted.  They could have discussed properly and made decisions by both of them.  Then at least she could have given her suggestions.  We also must have the right to give our own ideas and to make comments whenever necessary.  “Half and Half” does not say that she was not allowed to make decisions.  Instead, she just ignored the necessity of taking part in active discussion while making family decisions, leaving all that responsibility to Ted.  Loving each other should not make us totally depend on the other and that does not mean simply to comply with their ideas and decisions.

Ultimately, what I would like to suggest here is not to let others decide about each of our lives.  Let us do our part perfectly by making our decisions by ourselves  in order to avoid the consequences that we will have to face if we fail to do our part accurately.

Half and Half and my response.

After reading “Half and half” I was sorrow for Rose, her mother and especially for her younger brother Bing Hsu. As I read about the death of her brother in the seawater, I felt very sad and simultaneously I thought that I am lucky living on the earth until now. I know it sounds strange, but I truly had some accident in the water and every time I was saved fortunately. When I was 4- years old, one day I went to take bath in a pond near my home. After sometimes, my mother came to see what we are doing and she found that I was drowning. She rescued me and forbade me to go to the pond without any matured member of my family. I was both frightened anxious about water from that accident. Besides, I never taught how to swim, so I always afraid of water. At the age of 11-12, I went one of my relatives’ home and we went to the river near their home with other sisters and aunts. When we were taking bath, I suddenly slipped into the dipper and was about to drown. Someone noticed me and took me to the shore. After hearing this, my mother was really thoughtful that it was not good sign to occur similar things repeatedly. Whenever, I had to cross river by boat or another things, I always thought that it would sink and I would die. However, nothing happened until I was a candidate of school certificate exam. At the end of our school life, our teachers took us for n excursion. There was a beautiful pond and my friends were playing with the water. I followed them and went to wash my leg and fall down. I did not know how I returned to the bank. All my clothes and purse were wet and I could not enjoy the day. Hearing that, all of my relatives were frightened and advised me to learn swimming. As there was no suitable place to learn swimming, I did not learn that. Now, the condition is worse than past. I am living in Chittagong and I have to cross the river Carnafuli by boat. The river is so furious and that……..I cannot explain my feelings of the time when the boat is shaken by the huge current of the river. I wish I would learn swimming.