Lesson Two Discovery of a Father By Sherwood Anderson
About the author:Sherwood Anderson (1876~1941) • Sherwood Anderson’s life was in a way archetypal of literary lives in modern America. He was born into a poor family in Camden, Ohio, the U.S. in 1876, but spent his formative years in the town of Clyde, Ohio, which inspired the setting of many of his stories. He worked as a laborer in 1896~1898, then served in the Spanish American War.
He was the author of many stories and novels, and he was a major influence on a younger generation of important writers, including Faukner, Hemingway, Wolfe, Steinbeck, and others, both through his writings and his acts of personal kindness. It was through his influence, for example, that the first books of both Faukner and Hemingway were published.
His masterpiece ---- Winesburg, Ohio was published in 1919. • And he also left three personal narratives: • A Story-Teller’s story (1924) • Tar : A Midwest Childhood (1926) • Sherwood Anderson’s Memoirs (1942)
His Writing Style: • Anderson wrote his stories that appeal not through careful fabrications of incidents or episodes, but by the sheer emotional force of the moments of revelation, or the Joycean epiphany that these stories describe.
About the Stories • This is a story about an interesting character told by his son who later became a well-known writer.
With well-selected anecdotes and using the tone of a little boy, the author gives a vivid character sketch of his father whom he used to despite but gradually learns to understand and appreciate when he grows up.
Detailed Discussion of the Text • Paragraph 1 • You hear it said that fathers want their sons to be what they feel they cannot themselves be, but I tell you it also works the other way. • P: In a general way, fathers want their sons to live up to their expectations. But it is also true the other way around, that is to say the children have the same demand on their fathers.
dignified: sb or sth that is dignified deserves respect because of being controlled, graceful serious and calm. • eg. My parents want me to be a dignified man. • flow: a continuous stream, movement, or supply of sth • eg. During the tourist season, the flow of traffic usually doubles.
Paragraph 2: • It seemed to me then that he was always showing off. • Please pay attention to the use of continuous tenses to express the strong approval or disapproval. • eg: He is always making fun of other people. I don’t like that. • She is a wonderful person. She is always helping others.
Let’s say someone in our town had got up a show. • P: Let suppose sb in our town had arranged or organized a public performance. • to stand: to endure; to bear; to put up with • eg. I didn’t go to his talk. I couldn’t stand his nonsense.
Paragraph 3: • Grand Marshal: the man in charge of arranging or controlling crowds at certain public events such as parades and ceremonies
Paragraph 4: • … as good a time as they were. • as good a time as…: Note the position of the indefinite article. It is put between the adjective and the noun. More examples: • He is as intelligent a student as Tom. • Scarlet Letter is as interesting a novel as Oliver Twist.
Paragraph 5: • loaf: v. avoid activities esp.work • [ph] loaf around or loaf about • eg. Stop loafing(around/ about) and get on with cleaning the windows! • to go broke: to become bankrupt; become penniless • eg. He went broke and he was down and out.
Paragraph 6: • to fool around:to spend your time doing nothing useful • eg.you shouldn’t fool around with such a guy. • windbag: sb who talks too much
About the Civil War • The Civil War: it refers to the war in the war in the United States between the Union( north ) and he Confederacy ( south ) from 1861 to 1865. It is also called War Between the States
Grant : • Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822~1885) was the Union commander in the American Civil War. He out-maneuvered his enemy commanders many times, and finally, in 1865, forced Robert Lee, the supreme commander of the Confederate Army to surrender, thus effectively ending the Civil War. When Lincoln was assassinated, he was elected the 18th president of the U.S. But as president, his two terms(1869 ~1877) were marked by an astounding degree of corruption carried on by his friends and associates.
Sherman • William Tecumseh Sherman(1820~1891) was one of the most famous Civil War generals in the Union Army. He fought many of the bloodiest battles in the war. But he was probably best remembered for his “march to the sea”---an attempt to destroy the vital supply base of the South. Sherman once said that “War is hell.” After he retired, some Republicans intended to elect him their presidential nominee, but he turned it down, saying : “ If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”
Sheridan: • Philip Henry Sheridan (1831~1888) was another outstanding Union general of the Civil War. He was best remembered for how he carried out Grant’s order to lay waste the Shenandoah Valley, the granary of the South. Sheridan ravaged the place so much that, in his own words, “A crow would have had to carry its rations if it had flown across the valley.”
Lee • Robert Edward Lee (1807~1870) was Confederacy’s outstanding general in the Civil War.
He truly was a genuine American hero who was dearly respected in the North and adored in the South.
As the principal of the Washington University in Virginia , he once said, “The education of a man is never completed until he died.”
Paragraph 12: • orderly: n. a soldier who does unskilled jobs for a commander. • adj. Arranged or organized in a sensible or neat way • eg. He has an orderly mind.
Paragraph 13: • slip off: to go off quietly or secretly without being noticed or caught. • eg. Just slip off the room while nobody is looking.
Paragraph 14: • memoirs: a written record of a usually famous person’s own life and experience • get word: receive the news or information • eg.So far there is still no word about the cause of this air clash. • to call it quit: (infml) to agree that a debt or an argument is settled; or to agree to stop doing something • eg. Will you call it quits if I pay you twenty dollars?
Paragraph 18: • to lick: v. (infml) to defeat an opponent, often in sports • eg. She has licked her weight problem. • Paragraph 19: • to be thick with sb: to be very friendly with sb • eg. How are you thick with such a guy who is always telling lies?
Paragraph 23: • down and out: (infml) having no job, no money, and no place to live; destitute • eg. Since my father was laid off, our family were down and out, and that was really a difficult time for us.
to sympathize with: to feel or express compassion, as for another's suffering; commiserate. • eg. After reading the Matches Girl, all of us sympathize with the poor little girl. • Maybe the woman had dared to sympathize with her. • P: Maybe the woman had been rude enough or foolish enough to express sympathy for my mother.
Questions for Discussion • 1.Why was father different from what he used to be? • 2.Why did father ask son to go swimming on such a wet night? • 3.Do you think the change of son’s attitude towards father was too sudden? Why or why not?
A Brief Discussion on Symbolism • Symbol: • A symbol, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “something that stands for something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance…a visible sign of something invisible.” Symbols, in this sense, are with us all the time, for there are few words or objects that do not evoke, at least in certain contests, a wide range of associated meanings and feelings.
For example, the word home ( as opposed to house ) conjures up feelings of warmth and security and personal associations of family, friends, and neighborhood.
Human beings, by virtue of their capacity for language and memory, are symbol-making creatures. So you can think of as many symbols as you can such as key is the symbol of the answer to question and river is the symbol of mother of creatures, or whatever you like.
In literature, however, symbols--- in the form of words, images, objects, settings, events, and characters--- are often used deliberately to suggest and reinforce meaning, to provide enrichment by enlarging and clarifying the experience of the work, and to help to organize and unify the whole.
Symbolism: • In broad sense symbolism is the use of one object to represent or suggest another; or, in literature, the use of symbols in writing, particularly the serious and extensive use of such symbols. • In America in the middle of the 19th century, symbolism was the dominant literary mode. In this symbolist movement, the details of natural world and the action of people were used to suggest philosophical ideas and themes.
Symbolic meaning used in this text • Settings: a wet night • A wet night usually has the symbolic meaning to show sth unexpected would happen. • And here the wet night or the darkness also serves as the symbol of the difficulties they met in their life.
The swimming: • …he put my hand on his shoulder and struck out into the darkness. • Father and son , striking out into the darkness together, with the boy’s hand on the father’s shoulder. They are swimming together in the pond, but in a symbolic sense, they are also getting ready to fight against heavy odds in life together.
Paragraph 41: • He was a story-teller as I was to be. • P: It means that looking back, the author realized that he himself had become a story writer because of his father’s influence, because he had his father’s genes of literary creation.
The Outline of the Passage • The first part: ( paragraph1 ~ paragraph25 ) • In this part, the author gave a very vivid character sketch of his father whom he despised . • The second part: ( paragraph 26 ~ the end ) • In this part, the author describes his “discovery of his father” through the little incident of his father’s swimming with him on a wet night.
Conclusion of the text • Mark Twain once said with his usual humor, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one , I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” • This passage is dedicated to the memory of his father.
Homework • Write out a passage entitled • “Discovery of my father / my mother” • Finish all the exercises of this unit.