Jolene Baldridge

Every Story is Better With Cats

A Rose for Emily can be found here.

My video can be found here.

I have been a fan of “A Rose For Emily” since the first time that I read it four years ago in my American Literature class in high school. When I found out that I could do a creative project about it for my final project I got very excited. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something different from everyone else. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized that what makes me different from the other students is my large amount of pets. Immediately I knew that I had to incorporate some of my pets into my project.

I then remembered a Youtube video that I had seen about a year ago of a retelling of Disney’s The Lion King with kittens that was appropriately titled “The Lion King (Cute Kitten Version).” The children telling the story give brief summaries of various scenes from The Lion King over videos of kittens acting out those scenes. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.

I only have three cats and, while there are only three main characters in the story, “A Rose For Emily” is told by the townspeople and often involves their interactions with the main characters. I decided that instead of putting different outfits on my cats and making them play multiple characters, I would make puppets of the minor characters. Since I am basing the video off of a Disney parody, I thought it would be fun to include Disney characters as well. My puppets will be based off of the townspeople in Beauty and the Beast.

Many of the stylistic choices that I made in the video were based on my cats not cooperating. Several of the videos that I took of them repeat throughout the movie because after about twenty minutes, they were all tired of me. However, they were not tired enough to sleep so in the scenes where Emily and Homer are dead, my cats are wide awake and moving around. Overall, I feel that if they would have cooperated better the video would have turned out better, but I cannot speak to cats so I cannot tell them what I needed them to do.

Works Referenced

Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. By Linda Woolverton, Paige O’Hara, and Robby Benson. Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc., 1991. DVD.

Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 317-23. Print.

The Lion King (Cute Kitten Version). Youtube. The Pet Collective, 24 Dec 2013. Web. 28 Nov 2014

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Comparison of Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat and Hills Like White Elephants

Ernest Hemingway wrote “Hills Like White Elephants” in 1927. Fifty-four years later, Russell Banks wrote “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat.” Despite being set in different countries and time periods, the two share many similarities. It is difficult to read the two stories without thinking that perhaps Banks had Hemingway’s story in mind when he wrote “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat.”

Ernest Hemingway, author of "Hills Like White Elephants" poses with a cat

Ernest Hemingway, author of “Hills Like White Elephants,” poses with a cat

At their simplest levels, both stories follow a couple’s conversation about plans to terminate a pregnancy. However, the words “abortion” and even “pregnancy” are never actually mentioned in either story. Both couples talk vaguely about how things will be after the abortion. In both stories, the women mention their belief that once the fetus is gone everything will be better. In Hemingway’s story, Jig says “if I do it you’ll be happy and things will be like they were and you’ll love me?” and later “I’ll do it and everything will be fine (Hemingway 418).” Similarly, in Banks’ story the couple discusses her way of thinking. The man starts out

‘I hate this whole thing. Hate! Just know that much will you?’

She reached out and placed a hand on his arm. ‘I know you do. So do I. But it’ll be all right again afterwards. I promise. It’ll be just like it was.’

‘You can’t promise that. No one can. It won’t be all right afterwards. It’ll be lousy.’ (Banks 65)

As seen above, in Banks’ story the man is not convinced that abortion will solve their problems. In fact, later on he tells the woman that he would like to just leave her on the island because he doesn’t want her to go through with the abortion. In Hemingway’s story Jig talks about how she doesn’t know what she wants to do. She isn’t quite sure if she wants a baby, but she also isn’t sure that she wants to abort it. She agrees to go through with the procedure to please the man because he convinces her that the fetus is “the only thing that bothers us. It’s the only thing that makes us unhappy.”

Both stories are made up almost completely of dialogue. Since both stories are mostly dialogue, there is never a need for names. In both the characters are simply referred to as “the man” and “the girl.” In Hemingway’s story the man calls the girl “Jig” twice. However, this is only a nickname (jig in this sense meaning trick or game) and is used by the man to belittle the woman just as much as calling her “the girl.” Banks also belittles the woman in his story stating that “the young woman was a girl, actually, twenty or maybe twenty-one” (63).

Russell Banks, author of Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat, with a cat

Russell Banks, author of “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,” with a cat

In both stories the women are struggling with depression. The woman in Banks’ story states it directly saying that her mother “thinks I’m fragile. Especially now since I’ve had some close calls. At least that’s how she sees them.” “Sees what?” the man asks. “Oh you know. Depression” (65).  In Hemingway’s story, Jig is less direct. She simply tells the man that she will go through with the abortion because “I don’t care about me. And I’ll do it and then everything will be fine” (418). She needs the man to care for her because she doesn’t care about herself and will do anything to insure that he continues to love her.

Finally both stories take place in places of transit. In “Hills Like White Elephants” the couple is waiting at a train station whereas in “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat” the couple is in a rowboat on their way between the shore and an island in the center of a lake. The couple in “Hills Like White Elephants” is able to choose to take the train that will take them to Madrid for Jig’s procedure or they can choose to go home. Similarly, in “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,” the couple could choose to stay on the lake longer than they planned to so that the woman cannot make it to her appointment or they could adhere to their schedule. Both couples are still able to change their minds about what to do about the women’s pregnancies.

However, this is the only similarity between the settings of the two stories. Hemingway’s story takes place in the 1920s at a bar at a train station in Barcelona. Banks’ story takes place in the 1980s on a lake at a trailer park in America. These settings also help to show a difference of wealth between the two couples. Hemingway’s characters are well off enough to drink as much as they like at a foreign bar and are able to travel across Spain to have an abortion. Banks’ characters however, live in a trailer park. The woman lives with her mother. They are certainly not as wealthy as those in Hemingway’s story.

Despite the differences in the settings of “Hills Like White Elephants” and “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat,” the stories are clearly very similar. There are too many similarities for them to have happened by chance. Russell Banks must have had Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” in mind when he wrote “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat.”

Works Cited

Banks, Russell. “Black Man and White Woman in Dark Green Rowboat.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 62-67. Print.

Hemingway, Ernest. “Hills Like White Elephants.” The Story and Its Writer. Ed. Ann Charters. Compact 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 416-19. Print.

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An Evening with George Saunders

On the 5th of September I had the pleasure to hear George Saunders speak at Lenoir-Rhyne as part of their Visiting Writers Series. He told us about his past, that he was an engineer before becoming an author, and then about his experience as an English professor at Syracuse University.

While all of this was interesting, I got much more interested when he started to read from his newest book Tenth of December. The particular story that he read was titled “Victory Lap.” “Victory Lap” is one of the longer stories in Tenth of December and follows the lives of neighbors Allison and Kyle. Saunders read sixteen pages of the story in which we really got to know Allison. The first part of the story is told from her point of view. During this part of the story we learn that Allison’s birthday is in three days, she is a ballerina, and she thinks her neighbor, Kyle, is pretty weird. The last four pages that Saunders read were from Kyle’s point of view. We learn that Kyle’s parents are very strict and that he has a crush on Allison. Then, all of a sudden, Kyle notices a man walking through Allison’s backyard. The man knocks on her back door and she comes outside. Kyle steps outside his door to investigate and is told “Move a muscle I knife her right in the heart. Swear to God. Got it?”

And that is where George Saunders stopped reading. Needless to say, I bought the book. It was a great marketing tactic. Get me invested in the characters’ lives and then make me worry about them.

My favorite thing about Saunders however, was that he had very creative curse words. Now, I know that that sounds very immature, but I was sitting behind the deaf and hard of hearing students and watching their interpreter try to sign “crap-cunt shit-turd dick-in-the-ear butt-creamery” followed shortly by “cunt-swoggle rear-fuck” and “cornhole the ear-cunt” gave me a strange sort of pleasure.

If you would also like to be tortured by George Saunders’ heart wrenching stories, his books are all available at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon. If you would like to learn more about him in general, his website is

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The Role of Television Violence in “The Other Place”

In Mary Gaitskill’s “The Other Place” readers are given a unique look into the mind of a teen with psychopathic tendencies. Throughout the story the narrator talks about his son’s violent thoughts while flashing back to his adolescence and his own violent thoughts. The story describes the narrator’s fantasies about recreating the violence that he sees on television.

"The Other Place" was first published in The New Yorker on February 14, 2011

“The Other Place” was first published in The New Yorker on February 14, 2011

“The Other Place” begins with a description of the narrator’s son Doug who, at thirteen, loves toy guns, video game violence, and funny television violence. Doug also likes to draw death: men with guns, men hanging from nooses, men cutting other men up with chainsaws. Later in the story the narrator finds Doug watching a video on the family computer of a little boy in a mask murdering people.

The narrator expresses his concern with Doug’s interest in violence despite his wife’s insistence that everything will be fine as long as the violence is balanced out with other things. As the story progresses it is revealed that the narrator finds sexual pleasure in the idea of someone being hurt or killed.

Most disturbing is the description of exactly what the narrator found pleasure in at about the age of fourteen. The narrator says that suddenly he

started getting excited by the thought of girls being hurt. Or killed. A horror movie would be on TV, a girl in shorts would be running and screaming with some guy chasing her, and to me it was like porn. Even a scene where a sexy girl was getting her legs torn off by a shark-bingo. It was like pushing a button. (371)

He says that as a teen he and his friends watched music videos in which “disgusting things happened.” He remembers these videos taking him to “The Other Place” in which he “sometimes passively watched a killer and other times became one” (371).
Over the course of the story this pleasure at others’ pain progresses from simply watching it on the television to wanting to be the one inflicting the pain. The narrator tells of a college girl who was “the kind of lady I’d like to slap in the face” (373). He begins to fantasize about her. Once, late at night, he drove to her campus looking for her, but was scared off when people began to walk toward him. After this disappointment, the narrator started hitchhiking. While hitchhiking, he often brought a gun and thought about killing the person who picked him up.

It is important to note that the narrator only seemed interested in violence against women. Before the college girl, he used to sit at his neighbor Jenna’s window and watch her sleep. He says that he never thought about killing her, but every time she is mentioned there is an air of sexual attraction. Later, when he goes to the college campus it is clear that he intends to harm the girl, but the readers are left wondering if he will choose to rape or murder her. Finally, when he talks about hitchhiking he mentions that most of the people who picked him up were men. This is said as if he is disappointed that more women did not pick him up. Never does the narrator mention thinking about any form of violence against other men.

When the narrator does finally decide to make the other place real, he patiently waits for the right victim to pick him up. He wants an unmarried woman without children who would hopefully not be missed. She is willing to be killed and later he realizes that she was undergoing chemotherapy and that that was probably why she accepted her imminent death.
Ultimately, the narrator does not kill the woman “with the red eyes.” However, when he sees violent movie trailers or videos he often has flashbacks to this woman. He says that he used to think about her and what could have happened all the time. Now, around twenty years later, he still thinks about that woman. He was so used to seeing victims beg for their lives (the part of the violence that really seemed to pleasure him) in his movies and television shows that he was unable to determine what to do when his victim accepted her fate.

Mary Gaitskill’s “The Other Place” is a narrative about a teen wanting, and eventually attempting, to recreate the violent acts that he has become accustomed to seeing on television screens. Throughout the story, it is clear that his son also finds pleasure in the suffering of others. The narrator fears that his son will display similar psychopathic tendencies in an attempt to recreate something that he saw in a violent movie or music video.

Work Cited

Gaitskill, Mary. “The Other Place.” The Story and Its Writer. Compact 9th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 369-78

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