Final Exam Brielle Cetraro

Brielle Cetraro

English 103-20 Final


Through being in this English class, I have loved finding new ways to write, and reading   a variety of  author’s stories. Another thing I enjoyed was how personal our class got because we had the opportunity to read our peer’s writings each week. This gave us a better look into our peers’ lives and their experiences. I think a main aspect I loved about the readings that I was assigned in this class was not only how they helped me understand the material we were learning, but gave me a new insight into my own life. I was surprised that the readings all ended up relating to my own life. This made me think of the painful things occurring in my own life, but then I could recognize writing as a positive outlet for this pain and hardship. I truly did enjoy writing and incorporated examples from the readings we were assigned into my own works, which I think strengthened them greatly.

In Laura King’s “Goodbye to Afghanistan,” King talked a lot about the beauty that encompassed the horrors of Afghanistan. “…nearly every ugly experience is balanced by moments that make the heart lift.” This quote truly summarizes what I felt from reading her essay. Even though Afghanistan is a terrible war zone full of blood and broken hearts, there is love that fills the air and families that crowd the streets. There is always a hidden blessing within the terrors of life. This string of hope is also weaved throughout my memoir. In my memoir I explained the mental hardship my younger cousin has been struggling with in the past few years. She has had terrible depression, suicidal thoughts, self harming actions, and has shed what seems like just a few short of a million tears. Even though this pain that she has felt is excruciating, it has shown me the impact I can make on her life. It has opened my eyes to the importance of being there for her not only as a cousin but also as a mentor. King’s story truly made me think of how a terrible situation brought my cousin and I together. We have shown each other how much love we have to share and have been a constant support for eachother no matter the physical distance. Through this heartache, we have felt more connected than ever. We both know that we have a shoulder to cry on when we need it and that we care for each other enough to make our lives valuable. The theme of having a silver lining in the terrible stories of today’s world brings me a lot of hope for the future. It reminds me that there will always be tragedies going on around me, but I just have to take a step back and discover all of the positives in life.

I, again, try to find the silver lining of the tragedies of life in my essay. Yet, this time I think of how life can be made easier for prisoners, hoping prison can teach them a lesson instead of marking them the “bad eggs” of society. These prisoners usually want to be good people, but it is a constant battle for them to fight the normalcy of their destructive actions. There is a theme throughout the essay of hope of finding inner strength. Similarly, I found that Lisa Tillmann-Healy’s ethnography,  A Secret Life in a Culture of Thinness, had a similar theme. Tillmann-Healy speaks of her mental battle with knowing she should not binge and purge, but her feeling deep inside that makes her feel it is necessary to do so. “I read these stories aloud and I am conflicted. As a feminist, I am embarrassed by the amount of attention I have paid to my body. As a daughter, I am worried that these revelations will hurt my parents. As a scholar, I’m concerned that fellow academics will dismiss my work as self-absorbed… Perhaps I should feel ashamed, but somehow, I feel only relief.” This quote shows that Tillmann-Healy wants to better herself, yet, finds this to be a difficult task. In both my essay, and Tillmann-Healy’s ethnography, there is a similar cry for society to have patience for those who have to fight  for their past instincts. In the past, there has been a feeling that it is necessary to listen to the little devil on their shoulder. The angel has not been used in a while  to tell them the right thing to do.  These writings teach that not all people have good moral values ingrained into them, and their bad habits are hard to break.

Lastly, while reading the memoir “This Boy’s Life” by Tobias Wolff, I loved seeing his perspective of his mother change as he got older and wiser. He used to view his mother as a loving caregiver capable of anything. He states in his memoir “Everything was going to change when we got out West. My mother had been a girl in Beverly Hills and the life she saw ahead of us was conjured from her memories of California… they’d lived in a big house with a turret.” This quote shows the unwavering trust he has in his mother, even when maybe she shouldn’t have all of his trust. Later in the story, Wolff realizes his mother can not make anything happen, and his perspective of her completely changes. Wolff shows a loving sorrow for his mother. She had a heart full of hope that usually hurt her more than helped her. As a mother, she wanted to provide a comfortable life for her son, yet she could not do so financially. Instead of making financially smart decisions, she hopes her gambles with money will end in her favor, which they rarely do. Just like this change of perspective that the author and reader had for Wolff’s mother, I hoped to have a similar effect on the reader of my ethnography. I wanted people to see vegans and hunters as people with a similar respect for animals, not polar opposites. The usual view of these two groups is that they will never get along, yet I aimed to change vegans’ view on hunters, and vice versa through their mutual respect for animals.

Within this english course, reading the essays, memoirs, and ethnographies from multiple writers inspired me to express myself, read novels, and find how stories can relate to my life, more often. These writings, peer readings, and in class conversations helped me develop my writing skills and understand the materials we learned. I hope my writing continues to evolve over my time at Chapman and beyond. Writing has proved to be a great outlet for me, being a positive source for me to express my feelings. I intend to take more time to read novels, blogs, and essays during my free time. Instead of taking un unnecessary nap or watching television when I can’t sleep, I can dive into a book and nourish my mind with an interesting story.

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