Wednesday, 13 December 2017

The Forbidden City: A Dysfunctional Family

William Bell’s Forbidden City demonstrates effective characterization by including realistic motivations and subtle details. Alexander Jackson and his father, Ted Jackson make the decision to embark on a journey to China to develop their knowledge about the country and report this information back to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Unfortunately, the trip to this compartmentalized fantasy world fails to satisfy their expectations. This is attributed to previously existing dysfunction and a difficulty accepting the paranoia ingrained in a Communist state.
Ted Jackson shows evidence of having abandonment issues and despite his best efforts, this trickles through his optimistic facade that he uses to conceal his shattered emotions. An indication of such issues includes an underlying “clinginess” towards an individual and depression. These signs are clearly exhibited by Ted Jackson throughout the first twenty percent of the Forbidden City. Those who suffer from abandonment most typically gravitate towards those who can provide emotional stimulation similar to what was previously provided by the unavailable individual. Alexander Jackson provides attachment and warmth for Ted because of their relationship as father and son. The fear of loss is intensified when abandonment is experienced because of a desire to avoid further trauma. While it was possible for Ted to go on his trip to China independently, he insists on Alexander to accompany him. This could have been interpreted as a gesture of kindness and fatherly compassion but instead, it is an action characterized by fear. When Alexander is hesitant to follow his father, Ted tries to manipulate him. By purposefully understating the time spent in China, Ted makes Alexander agree to the trip. After realizing the truth of the situation, Alexander is too late. Another example of Ted Jackson’s issues resulting from abandonment is his depression. Those who suffer from clinical depression usually try to avoid the help and care of others in order to “avoid burdening other individuals”.  Ted is characterized by an overly exuberant attitude but it is revealed that he struggles with the departure of his wife.  While the adventure to China originally served as an emotional escape, an accentuated state of awareness and stress from an increased workload may unintentionally unravel Ted Jacksons intricately woven mask as the narrative progresses. In addition, the trip to China may also inadvertently deconstruct Alexander Jacksons innocent view of the human condition and his world.
The value of human life and distrust are ideas foreign to Alexander Jackson. The sensationalization of violence and war has become increasingly easier due to medias inclination towards representing the “extremes” and the superficiality of human lives. Alexander compares war to chess when remarking on Sun Tzu. This reveals that Alexander believes war to be as simple as an interaction in a game. The emotional repercussions and loss of life are both left ignored in a chess game. Alexander believes war to be art. A juvenile undertone is emphasized in this belief. This juvenility is further reiterated when Alexander is shocked to realize the emotional climate of China. An ignorance towards the reality of certain hardships and qualities is prevalent in Alexander’s worldview. After realizing that his tour guide, Lao Xu served as a spy for the Chinese government, Alex is left shattered. He fails in trying to comprehend why such paranoia in the government may exist and instead wallows in shock. Without the proper experiences and understandings, Alex is unable to learn as much as he could. His innocent views obstruct his ability to accept the unpleasant qualities that exist in his world.

William Bell proficiently demonstrates the obstructions that are present in human actualization. The narrative may follow the Tian An Men Square rebellion but I firmly believe that overcoming these obstructions belong as an narrative hallmark in the story.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Forbidden City: Global Issues Novel Study



    The Forbidden City is a novel that explores the narrative involving Alex Jackson and his father on a business trip for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. They are caught up in a violent demonstration for democracy in Tian An Men Square. The two feel the need to communicate this story to the rest of the world but may be risking their lives doing so.

    While never hearing about this story I am interested in the novel because of its interesting title. The title implies many possibilities for the outcome of the narrative. One of the reasons for the city being forbidden could be because of a restriction of contact or action (in this case the desire for democracy may be condemned). "Forbidden" is a term used to refer to disallowed or banned things, but the possibilities for restriction seems unlimited (ironic right?). Because of one adjective, the title becomes more interesting. This is the reason why I selected this novel for my study.

Or it could be because of how it was the first book I picked up...
Here is my schedule that I am planning to follow during the duration of this project.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Individual Blog Post 5: Border Patrol

    A personal sense of security can be a driving factor in individual decisions. When this sense of security is threatened, individuals are compelled to take desperate measures to protect it. This is reflected by certain circumstances that can result in illegal immigration. The conditions of one’s home country can be unforgiving and cruel. In order to find peace in the face of these harsh conditions, immigrants become desperate to escape. This desperation consumes their moral compass, as they become willing to break immigration laws to escape. There are those who are willing to manipulate this desperation such as “coyotes” and human traffickers; they are the type of people who make the situation worse by causing these immigrants further distress.

    Although manipulation goes against basic human nature, individuals still partake in such activities for personal benefit. Fearful immigrants find refuge in the belief that they will be safe, but they are disillusioned by those who promise false security. Greed and selfish intentions result in a corrupt desire for money; human traffickers often exploit the distress of troubled individuals in order to attain such a goal.

   Ahmed was a typical Syrian father until one day he was forced to move out of his country due to terrorism and extreme violence. As his personal security became threatened, Ahmed became desperate and chose to resort to illegal immigration. “Agents” promised Ahmed that he and his family would reach Libya. In reality, they were actually lead straight in the hands of several different Middle Eastern gangs. They were locked up in a single stable as other families were being tortured, beat, and raped. These traumatizing experiences had horrified Ahmed’s family and would have destroyed any sense of sanity if it weren’t for the prospect of eventual escape. The gangs promised safe journey to Malta if they were offered a great amount of money. Ahmed’s family managed to pay what was necessary, but as they were about to depart armed militiamen had wanted more money from Ahmed. They were unable to pay any more. Before Ahmed’s family was able to realize what was happening, they were shot to death. A few of the family members managed to survive but drowned on the trip to Malta.

    The desire for material currency has corrupted basic human values and has disturbed many desperate individuals way of living. Nancy Farmer has illustrated these issues with her novel “The House of the Scorpion”. Celia was promised safe delivery across the border by a “coyote” (human trafficker) but was betrayed and was left on a mountain with a bunch of others where they would be promptly captured by the authorities of Opium. While El Patron spared her, the others were not as fortunate. This reveals the harsh realities of human desire and the consequences we are forced to face.

Find out more about immigration:

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Individual Post 4: Worldview in Matt's life (Equality)

Matt’s ideology of an equal world is challenged by those who chose a path of bigotry and prejudice. As a child, his naivety forces him into situations that reveal and disrupt his “perfect reality”. People such as El Patron manipulate his innocence for unnecessary reasons which result in betrayal and a “gut-wrenching” feeling (speaking of organs…). In this situation Matt is not being betrayed by El Patron but rather his ideals are being shattered by a cruel and actual reality. This has become a typical story in our world today. Intolerance and external pressures have compromised our equality. Today discriminatory action inhibits and prevents equality, and therefore I believe Matt’s struggle against these circumstances emphasize the influence of “equality with others” in his life (the world of the House of the Scorpion reflects the values of our world). 

The circumstances Matt was placed in revealed many inequalities and injustices in his world and ours. Humans have the tendency to isolate and discriminate against those who appear to be different. Differences in our expectations typically result in unnecessary disapproval which can lead to harmful actions, and this is clearly demonstrated in Matt’s world as people patronize him for being a clone. Discrimination based on differences can be found in the real world. Donald Trump is an example of an individual who promises society with some troubling plans. Preventing immigration and raising security may help in the reduction of crime and terrorism but it also demonstrates rash and prejudiced intentions. Tom, Felicia, and Senator Mendoza are all people who clearly exhibit this hatred in the world of the House of the Scorpion. Adversity is inconvenient and can influence people to surrender but Matt’s patience and determination in order to attain his ideals have helped drive himself in a “better” direction.


The injustices from inequality  have influenced Matt and has provided him with necessary adversity in order to develop as a person. Adversity shapes people by forcing them to overcome a problem with new motivation and vigor. It develops an individual in new ways that prove to be different from traditional methods of developments.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Learning Education?


     Matteo Alacrán was living a very isolated life in his house, but when he was inflicted with a severe foot injury this would change. He was moved to the Big House where he learned new concepts through the interaction between teachers and different environments. His circumstances introduced him to a plethora of unique experiences which leads me to believe that education can be directly correlated to personal development.
   
    Common educational practices have revealed the qualities of teachers and their differences from effective mentors. It is clear that leadership is a quality that is not typical in most individuals but those that are exceptions can certainly expedite one's learning process. In other words, learning can develop through leadership. Tam Lin while being illiterate was still able to teach Matt far more than Mr. Ortega, a formal and traditional music teacher. Tam Lin’s survival skills prove to have much more value in Matt’s life than Mr. Ortega’s music lessons. Skills such as survival and the knowledge on El Patron’s resources prove to be more significant than the ability to play music. To reiterate, these opportunities could have only started through Matt’s injury which leads to believe me that traveling can be a powerful tool that can enable us to expand our understanding of the world, as Matt traveled from his isolated house to the land of Opium.

    Exploration places us in a different environment, where we are influenced to interact with individuals with different ideas and opinions. In doing so, we are able to utilize these ideas to help us develop as individuals. Matt Alacrán is put in a separate environment and therefore he has developed far more than he could have in Celia’s house. Celia had shielded him from the outside world and therefore he was introduced to previously unknown concepts when first arriving at the Big House. Matt’s ideal and unscathed world was ruined by people such as Tom and Rosa but they may have also introduced adversity and struggle to Matt which may have him allowed to develop a sense of resilience. 

    Matt was born into a path of adversity in which he had no time to prepare or retreat. These endeavors have educated him by providing him opportunities to build relationships and to develop skills that were necessary for overcoming externalized conflict and his own shortcomings. The relationships that one chooses to develop are the basis of all education whether this is with their circumstances, environment, or others.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The First 100 Pages


The book "The House of the Scorpion" does well in intriguing and capturing the attention of the reader. The introduction seems to present an interesting narrative that is unique and differentiates itself from typical science fiction books. Nancy Farmer brings upon interesting points about certain concepts. In essence, a clone is an exact replica of their counterparts which implies equality between the two. The book emphasizes a discriminatory prejudice against the clones which may be an allegory based on racial bias. Matt, El Patron’s clone is treated as if he were a dog, and this is emphasized through the direct comparison between him and a dog named Furball. The comparison between Matt and Furball, who is fearful of its own shadow, highlights how people victimize a certain group of individuals based on harmful preconceived notions. Circumstance is another concept emphasized by the relationship between Matt and El Patron. El Patron is described to be senile and weak; however, the other characters seem to be fear this fragile man. This seems to imply something sinister; it seems that this frail man is not what he seems to be. These foreboding qualities contrast to the qualities of Matt. Matt’s innocent characteristics are revealed by his unfamiliarity with death (the dead eejit on the field), and his naivety (believing a future where he could be recognized as something different.) This directly contradicts the disposition of El Patron. This comparison brings up these questions: Will he become El Patron? Will he become “large and green until he shadowed over the whole forest but with twisted branches?” (Tam Lin’s description of El Patron). These questions emphasize the significance of decisions and circumstances and their influence on one's fate. While El Patron had no one to help him through the traumatization in his childhood, Matt has supporting friends and associates that helped him overcome certain struggles. Nancy Farmer intrigues the audience through these ideas and the interesting plot.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Individual Post 1: The Scorpion Project

The House of the Scorpion is an intriguing narrative that introduces new ideas and interesting concepts. My comprehension and analysis is lacking and I hope my study of the novel is not "held back" by my lacking attention to detail.