IRJE #4 – Brokie

I am reading Down and Out by George Orwell which is about the author living a poor life in the streets of Paris and London, tramping by streets, passing time with “screevers,” or street artists and drunks. in this quotation, George Orwell discusses poverty with one of his friends, Bozo. This showed me a new perspective, as it showed the unimportance of materialism.

“Well, I’ve found just the contrary,” I said. “It seems to me that when you take a man’s money away he’s fit for nothing from that moment.”

“No, not necessarily. If you set yourself to it, you can live the same life, rich or poor. You can still keep on with your books and your ideas. You just got to say to yourself, ‘I’m a free man in here'” — he tapped his forehead–“and you’re all right.”

Bozo is saying that in the end, life is all about mindset, and if you have a positive outlook on life everything will be all right. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor. What really matters is mental freedom.

PR #4 – Pumping Iron

Going to the gym allows me to detach from life and concentrate on improving my physical fitness, mental tenacity and forming discipline. As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender that is strength.” This motto can be applied to any aspect of life. Studying, exercise, working a job, etc. It shows that the real strength comes from undergoing hardships, especially when it is difficult, and persevering even when you don’t want to. Without discipline you would simply be a feather in the wind, being blown around by what life throws at you. The average procrastinator lacks discipline. One who wakes up and chooses to delay the difficult things in order to receive instant gratification. For example, lying in your bed scrolling on social media rather than completing an academic assignment. In the end, those who lack discipline wander through life with a sense of stress and anxiety due to the fact that they must go through life while constantly fighting their own brain.

PR #3 – Soldier’s Home

Ernest Hemingway’s Soldier’s Home is a thought-provoking narrative which delves into the life of a young soldier upon returning from war. It explores the struggles and psychological difficulties that soldiers face when transitioning back to civilian life. Harold Krebs is portrayed as this detached, unemotional character, as seen on the last page, where he talks to his sister and mother, unaffected by his mother crying. This goes to show the sheer impact that war has on people and that trauma seriously impacts quality of life on the world as a whole, as it impairs him from properly communicating with those around him and picking up on certain social cues.

IRJE #3 – The Murderer

The book I am reading is called Drive your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, and this is a pivotal moment in the book as it finally reveals the murderer of four people.

I have Mercury in retrograde, so I’m better at expressing myself in writing than speech. I could have been a pretty good writer. But at the same time I have trouble explaining my feelings and the motives for my behaviour. I had to tell them, but at the same time I couldn’t tell them. How was I to put it all in words? Out of sheer loyalty I had to explain to them what I had done before they found out from others. But Dizzy spoke first.

“We know it’s you,” he said. “That’s why we came today. To make a decision.”

When I read this I felt a feeling of satisfaction, yet curiosity. Why did Janina murder all of these people? Is she crazy? Later on in the book she explained that both her dogs were hunted and killed by those four men, which explained her motive. The author kept the entire book suspenseful, as it was written in such a way that you didn’t know who the killer was until it was finally revealed.

PR #2 – How Life can Change in the Blink of an Eye

While reading the novel All Quiet on the Western Front I connected to the character Kemmerich while noticing his purpose as a character. Additionally, I noticed the sheer difference between the setting of our lives compared to the soldiers’.

After first hearing about Kemmerich’s leg, which had got shot off and amputated (Chapter 1, Pg 14), I was quite taken aback.

“We looked at his bed covering. His leg lies under a wire basket. The bed covering arches over it…. The leg is amputated. He looks ghastly, yellow and wan.”

This quotation made me think about how I would feel if my own friends got injured on the battlefield, how it would affect the lives of their friends and family.

When Bäumer spoke about Kemmerich’s mother being the “least composed of all” (Chapter 1, Pg 15), I felt a connection with the character as my mother would act the same in that situation. It seems as though the author Erich Maria Remarque intended for Kemmerich to serve as a reminder to us of how abruptly life can change. How in the blink of an eye, the friend you cherished and shared memories with lies on a hospital bed, yellow and frail, with death creeping through his body.

The setting of this story is very different to life today due to the lack of resources, particularly food. This was first seen in Chapter 1, when all the soldiers were satisfied because they got enough food.

“Yesterday we were relieved, and now our bellies are full of beef and haricot beans. We are satisfied and at peace. Each man has another mess-tin full for the evening; and, what is more, there is a double ration of sausage and bread. That puts a man in fine trim. We have not had such luck as this for a long time,” (Chapter 1, Pg 1).

In this quotation Paul Bäumer, the protagonist speaks about getting double rations. It seems that all the men are happy about this. The quotation “We have not had such luck as this for a long time,” signifies that they aren’t used to having such an abundancy in food and apparently it is a rare occurrence. In today’s developed parts of the world, food is abundant and most people have easy access to it. However, there is still a lack of food in the developing areas where food and resources are not easily accessible. In Chapter 7, Pg 160, Bäumer returns to his house with food that Kat provided him with and asks his family if they get enough food.

‘Is it pretty bad for food here?’ I enquire.

‘Yes, there’s not much. Do you get enough out there?’

I smile and point to the things I have brought.

‘Not always quite as much as that, of course, but we fare reasonably well.’

This quotation also shows that it is quite normal for there to be a lack of food.

Overall, I thought that All Quiet on the Western Front showed the importance of the difference of setting between life in the past and life today, since it teaches us to cherish the privileges we share today, and it taught the invaluable lesson of how quickly life can change.

PW #3 – A Not so Delightful Story of Lovers

Once upon time there was a small family who lived together in a small cottage by the seaside where the trees met the seas and everything was calm. There was a man who was a middle-aged fellow who enjoyed to fish. He woke up early each morning to catch fish to feed the couple. His wife was a small old lady who loved to stay at home and read books. They were a nice old couple who lived together happily. One fine morning, the Sun began to rise and it’s golden rays of light were seeping through the trees. The water was still and the horizon was painted a beautiful orange-pink hue which elicited a warm sensation. The man went out with his beloved wife down to the sandy beach to sail. He set the boat into the water and they departed. For hours on end they sailed, when finally, the sun began to set and darkness was approaching, like a curtain being drawn over windows. They returned to the house, where the women went back inside and the man stayed back to fish. He cast his rod forward and patiently waited for a bite. Suddenly, thunder growled behind him, like an angry lion, and the clouds closed-in. The sky turned an eerie grey. It started to pour, with each drop heavily pitter-pattering on the sandy beach. The fisherman walked back up the creaky wooden stairs leading up to his house. He slowly opened the door to the entrance of his house. From there the stormy sea could be seen raging through a giant pane of glass at the back of the house. It was dark and stormy. The man creeped up to the living room to see his beloved wife lying dead on a grey, bloodstained couch. Her eyes half open and her hands sprawled out stiff, as if reaching for something.

IRJE #2 – Mysteriously Fun

I was reading the book Drive your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead, which is a mystery story. In this quote the protagonist, Janina, discovers the dead body of her neighbour, which I found highly descriptive and delightful to read.

He was lying twisted in a bizarre position, with his hands to his neck, as if struggling to pull off a collar that was pinching him. Gradually I went closer, as if hypnotized. I saw his open eyes fixed on a point somewhere under the table. His dirty vest was ripped at the throat. It looked as if the body had turned on itself, lost the fight and been killed. It made me feel cold with Horror—the blood froze in my veins and I felt as if it had withdrawn deep inside my body.

This quotation shows how to build suspense and keep the reader engaged. It gradually gives more and more details about the situation to ensure that it remains mysterious. The use of metaphors and similes are also highly prominent in this quotation. “with his hands to his neck, as if struggling to pull off a collar that was pinching him.” “His dirty vest was ripped at the throat. It looked as if the body had turned on itself, lost the fight and been killed.” This quotation shows the importance of having a wide vocabulary as it keeps the reader hooked and it doesn’t get monotonous. Overall, I enjoyed reading this quote due to its thrilling nature, wide vocabulary and literary devices. It goes to show how important each little step is to make a text entertaining.

Is Pain the Key to Happiness?

I chose to read the book Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins. This book is about toughening your mind, and facing everyday tasks that are difficult with a sense of perseverance, tenacity, and duty. In this chapter, David Goggins was going through ‘Hell Week’ in Navy SEALS training, which is a 130 hour week, where you get no sleep, and you must continuously perform the exercises and regimens that the instructors order you to do. This was Goggins’ third and final Hell Week, and if he did not meet the standards, he would never achieve his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL. He had also broken both of his feet in the previous week, regardless, he still had to complete a 40 minute run at 3:30 A.M each morning, so he decided to tape up his feet in tube socks, and perform the run with determination. This was his mental dialogue as he was completing the run:

‘ “The only way to guarantee failure is to quit right now!” I was talking to myself now. Silently screaming over the din of anguish that was crushing my mind and soul… I imagined the feeling I would have if I could actually pull this off. If I could endure the pain required to complete this mission. That brought me another half mile before more pain rained down and swirled within me like a typhoon. “People have a hard time going through BUD/S healthy, and you’re going through it on broken legs! Who else would think of this?” I asked. “Who else would be able to run even one minute on a broken leg, let alone two? Only Goggins! You are twenty minutes in the business Goggins! You are a machine! Each step you run from now will only make you harder!” … at the forty minute mark something remarkable happened. The pain receded to low tide. The tape had loosened so it wasn’t cutting into my skin, and my muscles and bones were warm enough to take some pounding.’

This quote goes to show the importance of grit and determination, and that pain is only temporary, and if you face it with strength and perseverance, you can enjoy the fruits of it afterwards, and it will give you the mental toughness to perform harder tasks in the future. In this case, David Goggins’ goal was to become a Navy SEAL, and the only way to do that was to deal with pure agony and torture. In the end, David achieved his goal and went on to become a renowned triathlete, pull-up world record breaker, and ultramarathoner. We think of pain as this uncomfortable, worthless feeling, but it might just be the key to unlocking your potential and becoming the best that you can be.

A Cup of Coffee: Not so Trivial Anymore

While I was watching the film, They Shall Not Grow Old, I continuously tried to picture myself as a Canadian soldier in World War One, the difference between life as a man one hundred years ago compared to now, and different worldviews and perspectives. 

I was constantly thinking about life as a Canadian soldier, because some of the soldiers who fought in the war were the same age as me when they entered war, so I can somewhat relate to them in a sense, being a teenager who enjoys playing sports and who goes to school, and then suddenly having to decide, or in some cases be forced, into joining the war. I would have to sail all the way to Europe, and there would be some feelings of fear because I would be forced to leave my sheltered life and homeland. At the same time, there would also be an overwhelming sese of patriotism and pride in carrying out my duty to defend it. In addition to that, all my friends would participate in the war, family would also try to convince me to join, and there would be a great deal of propaganda coaxing young men to participate, which would make it irresistible for a boy of my age to join the war. Plus, if I did not join, I might be made fun of and thought of as a coward during those times, because people believed that it was a man’s duty to fight. 

Today, though, it would be a vastly different scenario. Looking at the film from a modern-day perspective, many would think of war as a crude way of increasing territory and gaining resources. Today, people frown upon the thought of war in order to retain peace. Governments should set up conferences and peacefully discuss their ideas rather than killing millions of people. War is a very inefficient way to get what you want, and it would be much more effective to simply communicate with other countries and open bilateral discussions to understand conflicting views. It is only through peaceful discussion that countries can achieve a better understanding of situations and find common ground. 

While I was watching the battle scenes, I was picturing what it would be like if my battle partners were getting shot and dying on the battlefield. The people who I bonded with and shared memories with disappearing in the blink of an eye. The adrenaline rush of trying to escape and frantically running for your life, and if you unfortunately got shot, the pain would be excruciating. I thought of it like a scary video game where you were always in fear and one where you could not pause or reload the game, so if you made a singular mistake, it would be “game over.” This made me think about how the soldiers would constantly be in a life-or-death situation for those four years from 1914 to 1918, but if we compared that to the lives of young men nowadays, there is such stark difference, because I can eat comfortably, go to school, have fun with my friends, and play sports, whereas if I was alive over a hundred years ago, I could be one step away from death at all times, barely eat enough to survive, and my friends would be getting killed left, right and centre. 

To conclude, while I was watching They Shall Not Grow Old, I was constantly reminded of the difference between life as a Canadian man one hundred years ago compared to now. It brings to light the little luxuries in life that we take for granted today, and how in the past it would be so difficult to simply enjoy a warm cup of coffee in the morning. My ignorance about the hardships of a 15-year-old a century ago brings into focus how important peace is. As the Buddha once said, “There is no greater wealth in the world than peace of mind.” This film made me realise how important it is to revisit history and see things from a soldier’s perspective. It is only then that you can see the devastation of war. And make every effort to prevent it in the future. After watching this film, I was given a newfound appreciation for what we consider trivial in life. 

A Glance at the Life of Agneya Pradhan

Hello, my name is Agneya Pradhan. I am looking forward to my first year at Brookes and MYP5 English this year! Although I’ve spent the majority of my life in Kingston, Ontario, I am from Bombay, India, where I spent the first three years of my life. I have been to nearly every single province/territory there is in Canada, leaving aside a couple of the territories. I love to compete in soccer matches, practice boxing, and do weightlifting outside of school.

I am not an avid reader, as I would rather do other physical activities instead, but when I do pick up a book, I enjoy reading popular fiction novels that include plenty of action and mystery like the Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, due to its action-packed plot filled with twists, and the Sherlock Holmes series, by Arthur Conan Doyle, because of their compelling mysteries. I have lately begun reading self-improvement books like Can’t Hurt Me, by David Goggins, which is one that I thoroughly enjoyed and would certainly recommend.

I like to picture myself as a decent creative writer, as I spent the bulk of time reading and even writing a few books when I was younger. Reflecting on them now, they weren’t very good. I consider myself a modest academic writer, as I am quite descriptive and detailed. I am continuously trying to expand my vocabulary by exploring alternatives to words I regularly use and applying them to academic work.