Reflections on First Semester of English III AP

Which parts of AP English III did you tackle successfully in the first semester? What did you do that facilitated your success?

  • Learning to not stress about timed writings.

I mean, let’s face it. Timed writings are going to be an inevitable aspect of the English III AP curriculum. Yes, timed writings do still give me the feeling of both drowning (the shortness of breath, the want to survive, the helplessness) and thrill, not the good one, (heart pounding, hands sweating, mind racing), but I have come to accept them. So when a timed writing comes along, I try get myself ready, think of peaceful thoughts, and remind myself [with all my will power] that there are worse things in the world.:D

Which parts of AP English III left you feeling only partially successful? Why did you struggle? What will you do in the second semester to improve in these areas?

  • Not being able to spend as much time as I would have wanted when writing formal essays.

Yes, I admit it. I have been guilty of waiting until the last moments to write my essays (you should see the faces of my friends who read my rough drafts which I basically brain dump ideas in my head onto a sheet of paper that makes practically no sense until I finally go to write my final draft). However, I want to emphasize that this is not because of procrastination (okay, 95% of the time). School is so demanding, tiring, discouraging that I often have to rush through essays that I sincerely wanted to take time to edit and revise. There are still some turned in essays that I regret not having had enough time to make them the best they could be… This may seem as though it is merely an excuse, but it is really true! So, I guess the way in which to improve this problem, the obvious and most stereotypical answer, would be to find more time to spend on my essays. Not more time to literally think about my essay itself (I already do a lot of that may it be when I’m walking down the hallway or sleeping. Ideas are always swimming around inside of my head) but more time to refine my ideas and mold them into a sophisticated and clear manner (I’m very well-known for my “extremely eloquent and comprehensible use of language that brings tears to people’s eye and brilliantly implements diction, syntax, and transitions in speech and in writing almost automatically without any need for revision” ;)).

Don’t worry Mr. W! I’ll really try to find more time to sincerely better my essays and save you some of the pain of having to read them:)

Mark Twain Bashes Civilization

“What is a civilization?” Mark Twain inquires. Is it always as it seems, carefree and modernizing, or is it quite corrupted?

It’s pretty evident which side Twain takes when writing his “Papers of the Adam Family.”

Of course we are all (hopefully all of us) aware of the ubiquitous misgivings of society. However, after reading Twain’s opinion of civilization, it still left me speechless :0. How could such a world renowned author say such pessimistic things and totally overlook even the simplest or smallest blithe in our society?

On the other hand, having just read and discussed his novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I can see why he had such bitter resentments. Throughout “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” we as readers can see Twain practically deriding society and mankind. Almost all the characters/places Huck encounters encompasses one of many human flaws that Twain illustrates. Some notable examples would be ignorance, gullibility, stupidity, and prejudice. Even Huck, the young protagonist of the novel who discovers the idea of humanity and is quite mature (much more mature than many of the characters for that matter), in the end is momentarily swept by societal and peer influence when he reunites with Tom Sawyer.

So, yes I do see and agree with Twain’s portrayal of society and the negative aspects of society that Twain emphasizes in both “Papers of the Adam Family” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” These ideas are extremely prevalent within civilization even today. The fact that many constitute success to wealth and fame even if it means backstabbing your friends and family. The idea that many see others as inferior just because of the color of their skin. The inevitability that emotions of jealousy and hatred are automatically sparked at the success of others. The reality that we have yet to solve these indomitable flaws of mankind.

However, I believe that these flaws that are an inevitable part of civilization actually allow for more discoveries and discernment, a medium in which to more easily grasp and realize what civilization is doing to our world. That civilization has, as Twain writes, “destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced it contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep which does not refresh; it has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; it has dethroned God and set up a shekel in His place” …

But we can all help to change it.

Check out Twain’s writing here:

What is a civilization, rightly considered? Morally, it is the evil passions repressed, the level of conduct raised; spiritually, idols cast down, God enthroned; materially, bread and fair treatment for the greatest number. That is the common formula, the common definition; everybody accepts it and is satisfied with it.

Our civilization is wonderful, in certain spectacular and meretricious ways; wonderful in scientific marvels and inventive miracles; wonderful in material inflation, which it calls advancement, progress, and other pet names; wonderful in its spying-out of the deep secrets of Nature and its vanquishment of her stubborn laws; wonderful in its extraordinary financial and commercial achievements; wonderful in its hunger for money, and in its indifference as to how it is acquired; wonderful in the hitherto undreamed-of magnitude of its private fortunes and the prodigal fashion in which they are given away to institutions devoted to the public culture; wonderful in its exhibitions of poverty; wonderful in the surprises which it gets out of that great new birth, Organization, the latest and most potent creation and miracle-worker of the commercialized intellect, as applied in transportation systems, in manufactures, in systems of communication, in news-gathering, book-publishing, journalism; in protecting labor; in oppressing labor; in herding the national parties and keeping the sheep docile and usable; in closing the public service against brains and character; in electing purchasable legislatures, blatherskite Congresses, and city governments which rob the town and sell municipal protection to gamblers, thieves, prostitutes, and professional seducers for cash. It is a civilization which has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life; replaced its contentment, its poetry, its soft romance-dreams and visions with the money-fever, sordid ideals, vulgar ambitions, and the sleep which does not refresh; it has invented a thousand useless luxuries, and turned them into necessities; it has created a thousand vicious appetites and satisfies none of them; it has dethroned God and set up a shekel in His place.

– Mark Twain, “Papers of the Adam Family”