IRJE #4 – Oliver Twist – Naiveté

For the past few weeks, I have been reading the classic novel “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. The book is set in mid-19th century London and is about a young orphan boy named Oliver Twist. The novel exposes the unsavoury lives of criminals during the time and the inhumane treatment of orphans. To escape from Mr. Bumble, the workhouse official, and his abusive treatment, Oliver Twist walks seventy miles to arrive in London, naively hoping for a better life. After walking for seven days fatigue and hunger set in and he collapsed in a small town near his destination, London. Oliver Twist finds himself being invited by the Dodger, a skillful pickpocket into Mr. Fagin’s lodge. Mr. Fagin as we learn later is an older Jewish man with a described unpleasant appearance who teaches young orphaned or abandoned children the art of pickpocketing. Here, Oliver Twist is being taken care of by Mr. Fagin and he notices a box of riches his first morning there while eating breakfast.

“Oliver thought the old gentleman must be a decided miser to live in such a dirty place, with so many watches; but, thinking that perhaps his fondness for the Dodger and the other boys, cost him a good deal of money, he only cast a deferential look at the Jew, and asked if he might get up” (P.56).

This quotation explains Oliver Twists thoughts on the abnormal amount of riches Mr. Fagin has. He believes that Mr. Fagin lives in such a run down slum because he has a good heart and wants to keep supporting the Dodger and the other young misfortunate boys. Oliver’s thoughts in this quotation lead us to assume he is very naive and still does not understand the cruelty of people especially when money is involved. Charles Dickens also portrays Oliver’s naiveté by the way he soon forgets the box of watches not even wondering how one living in such a place could come by such riches.

PW #4 – Road Rage Created from Impatience

Personally, rage is an unexplainable feeling that builds up through constant irritation or frustration. It engulfs you like a warm blanket twice your size, except it’s the middle of a heatwave and not a cold winter morning.

When speaking of a broader range of my experiences with rage, I am mainly referring to being impatient. This impatience usually arises when I am being driven to and from school. As I live a far distance from school, the time I spend in a car per day consists of approximately two hours. Usually, the drive should only take about thirty to forty-five minutes. However, Sooke (the town I live in) is a rapidly growing town with one road in and out. As my brother slowly inches forward every couple of seconds and two lanes fail to merge on a Wednesday evening, I can feel the impatience and annoyance augment inside me. I begin complaining, blaming anyone I possibly can for the horrible traffic even if it is not anyone’s fault.

Although I am aware that road rage can escalate to violence and violent actions, the only way I felt I could try to understand is through relating experiences and sympathizing. Perhaps they had a horrible day and just needed to get home when some driver made a mistake on the road, or maybe this person is insecure about their driving, or they are just plain old impatient. When it comes to driving, people need to be extremely careful as one mistake could be fatal to someone’s life. Being impatient and angry blurs your view when making rational decisions. So, please be careful on the road!

IRJE #3 – Emma – Personal Growth and Backhanded Words

Currently I am reading the novel entitled « Emma » by Jane Austen. This novel is set in the early 19th century and tells the story of an adolescent girl named Emma Woodhouse who constantly tries to set up her friends and sees herself as a matchmaker. Although she is not very good at it and has some misplaced confidence in herself her attempts at setting up her friends almost always go wrong. For example in this quotation Emma has just become a bit more self aware after she had said something rude to Miss Bates at their picnic and being scolded by Mr. knightly.

“She was vexed beyond what could have been expressed—almost beyond what she could conceal. Never had she felt so agitated, so mortified, grieved, at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. The truth of his representation there was no denying. She felt it at her heart. How could she have been so brutal, so cruel to Miss Bates! How could she have exposed herself to such ill opinion in any one she valued! And how suffer him to leave her without saying one word of gratitude, of concurrence, of common kindness!”

This quotation shows two main parts of this story. Firstly Emma’s growth as she’s realizing how rude she was and is to many people. Secondly, this story shows the way in which wealthier people acted in the early 19th century. Often times people would think the lower class people are all foulmouthed. However, the upper class had much more detrimental comments. This quotation is a great example as the insult Emma has said took Miss Bates a moment to even realize she was being insulted.

PR #2 – All Quiet On The Western Front – Animal Instincts

The novel “All Quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque made me feel very emotional. Considering that I am a sensitive person finding a novel about war heartbreaking wasn’t very unusual for me. However, I found the way Paul described his emotions and behaviour in this novel very fearsome and unnerving rather than sadness or pity. This behaviour is the animalistic and survival state of mind Paul described himself and his comrades being driven to.

 A depiction of the animal-like state that was constantly described throughout the novel was when Paul Baümer volunteered to crawl through no man’s land to collect information on the enemy’s current state. Paul finds himself in a shell hole as the enemy begins to send waves of soldiers, a French soldier falls into his shell hole and Paul’s instincts to stab him ensues,” I do not think at all, I make no decision–I strike madly home, and feel only how the body suddenly convulses, then becomes limp, and collapses.” (p. 209). In this example, Paul describes the instinct to kill any soldier who falls through the shell hole he is hiding in. That moment of having no control and desperately trying to survive he regretted no more than a few minutes later, after recovering. It was as if he had lost consciousness, his mind had gone into survival mode. This scene felt very disturbing to me and helped me connect to Paul as I was trying to imagine what I would do in such a situation.

Paul Baümer even describes some of his comrades or other soldiers directly using the word animal. The animalistic behaviour that is described is also connected to survival instincts that they had to learn in training. For example, in this quotation Paul’s division and some recruits are assigned a dangerous task, to set up barbed at the front. A shell bombing begins, Paul and the older recruits in the division bury themselves underground and fold their bodies to dodge the shells, “By the animal instinct that is awakened in us we are led and protected. It is not conscious; it is far quicker, much more sure, less fallible, than consciousness. One cannot explain it.” (p. 59). This quotation emphasizes how the young boys who joined the war did not originally have such instincts, as many of the new young boys who were conscripted died in this scene. This segment of the novel sparked many feelings, I felt mortified at the thought of having these animal instincts induced by the war. This contributed to Erich Maria Remarque’s goal, to write a novel about war that did not romanticize it. Instead, it showed the truth behind war the people who fought for their lives, not for glory. The soldier’s reliance on animal instincts to survive.

PW #3 – The Perfect Morning

I wake up at a quarter past eight. I feel a cold chill down my back as I lift the warm blanket off of my body. I put on my fuzzy baby blue slippers and turn up the heat in my room. I gently lift the side curtain and peak through the corner of my foggy window to reveal the first snow of winter. Excitement bubbles up inside of me. I rush into the living room hoping to announce the obvious snow to my family in excitement.

Alas, it seemed my whole family was asleep. My father and mother wrapped up in their bed ready to sleep for only the next hour or so. My mother would arise first, she would make herself a cup of tea and sit by our wood burning fireplace. My brother much like a bear in hibernation, would sleep for a few more hours with the heater in his room turned all the way, only coming out when he was hungry.

The fire is still going from the previous night the last of the wood slowly dying away but still providing an appropriate amount of heat to keep the house warm. I decide to stock the fire place as the weather would most likely continue to be below zero. Luckly, my father had brought in some more wood the previous night so I did not need to go outside. I took the block of cedar wood and old newspaper put them into the firebox. The surroundings brightened as the flames rose up. My cat noticed too and waddled over with curiosity. Her black and white fur much resemble that of a cinder. My cat sat down and watched until the large flames died down into small sparks of light around the wood, her curiosity satisfied, she flops down to go to sleep. As I sit here with my cat, the warmth of the fire, and the cold of the outdoors, I think to myself what a perfect morning.

IRJE #2 – Recreating the Past

I recently finished a book called The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan are the protagonists of this story. The Great Gatsby is set in 1925, New York City and recites Jay Gatsby’s desire to pursue Daisy. Nick Carraway narrates the novel, he depicts important events in the story in the first-person perspective. Nick Carraway is a young man who just returned from fighting in WW1 and came to New York City to Study the bond business. In this excerpt, Nick Carraway concludes the novel by reciting what happens to Gatsby and the ultimate feeling of what he has observed all this time. For example, this quotation,

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… . And one fine morning —— (P.138).

The novel concludes with these words from Nick Carraway and continues the theme of the struggle humans face trying to re-create the past. Nick Carraway uses metaphoric language here as the current in the water draws them backwards, they continue to attempt rowing forwards. As stated in the quote, “We will run faster, stretch out our arms farther” Gatsby cannot escape his past ambitions and his want to recreate his relationship with Daisy. Gatsby is basing his future on his past.

PW #2 – Remember to Get Back Up

This year I bought a pair of roller skates with my mom. They were a beautiful shade of arctic blue, with fabric resembling that of velvet. My mom and I vowed that we would begin roller skating in the summer at a local roller skating rink. We tried on our roller skates beforehand and watched a few tutorials. There was so much advice online about how you should do this, and how should you do that. I found it quickly overwhelmed me with loads of information, but that is just how starting new things work. You just have to start.

The local rink was open on Thursday afternoons, entering the building we expected at least twenty or so people to be there. But there was no one. It was quite comical, we had been anticipating seeing an expert or anyone at all. The clacking of our steps cut through the silence like a knife. Once we sat down on a bleacher near the entrance to the rink I began to rack my mind of all the advice from those tutorials.

I started by tying my laces. This part although simple was very important. If I tied my laces too tight it would have felt like my foot was about to pop from the pressure. If my laces were too loose my ankle would have no support increasing the chances of self-injury. I crossed over one side of the laces, hooked on to its opposite side, tightened and repeated until the top where I tied it off with a bow, just as the tutorial had said. I remembered to look forward, not down. Keeping my back and shoulders straight, bending my knees and not flailing my arms around. To move forward I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. After stumbling around for a few minutes, I finally got the hang of it. It was a process of trial and error. I fell, I crashed into the sides of the railings, and I stumbled over my skates, but that was okay. I just needed to remember to get back up.

IRJE # 1 – Crime and Punishment – Rambling On

Currently, I am reading the psychological crime novel Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and translated by David Mcduff. The quotation is from the perspective of the protagonist, Rodion Raskolnikov. During this quotation, Raskolnikov sneaks out of his apartment due to a fear of encountering his landlady as he has not paid his rent. Raskolnikov begins to wander through the city lost in his thoughts.

‘I plan to attempt a thing like this, yet I allow that kind of rubbish to scare me!’ he thought with a strange smile…It’s a curious reflection: what are those people most afraid of? Of doing something new, saying a new word on their own that hasn’t been said before- that’s what scares them the most. But I’m rambling. That’s why I never do anything – because I ramble on to myself like that. Or perhaps it’s the other way around; I ramble because I never do anything (p.6).

The significance of this quotation lies in the evident foreshadowing and the introduction to the character. Foreshadowing is apparent in the beginning sentence of this excerpt as it states that he is about to attempt a worse crime than evading his rent. The questioning and rambling of the protagonist aids the readers in understanding the exposition of the character. When the protagonist describes his habit of rambling on I felt I could gain a deeper connection to his emotions.

PR #1 – Mixed Thoughts and Feelings – Julia Street

While watching the documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old” directed by Peter Jackson my feelings and thoughts were mixed. They were emotions a majority would feel when mentioning war, sadness, anger, and horror. During the classes we spent watching the documentary I felt all these emotions, however, another emotion struck me, that of pity. Pity like an outsider, pity of those who could not relate.

 Throughout the documentary, I felt like the civilians after the war had ended, pitying but not fully understanding the experiences of the survivors, “However nice and sympathetic they were, attempts of well-meaning people to sympathize reflected the fact that they didn’t really understand at all”. In modern-day times it would be like reading about the war online or watching it on the news. You feel pity towards the people and the situation they are in but nonetheless, you go on with your day. Although the civilians had felt the pain of having their family and friends sent out to war, they could not truly fathom the horrifying feeling of surviving in the trenches, charging across no man’s land, the impending doom of getting shot or blown up. This frightened me, the horrors a soldier had to experience would go unnoticed by family and friends.

Perhaps, it is because I can not relate to the world of 1914-18 especially since the zeitgeist was different more than 100 years ago. The normalization of war is a very foreign idea to me. At the start of the war, the excitement moving through the young men in Europe shocked me. I was horrified at the thought that some of these young men lied about their age just to join, many not being more than two years older than me. I was in disbelief at how casually these people thought of war. After thinking about it, it makes sense, all they had ever thought about war was that it was a glorious thing that brought your nation power and wealth. They believed as a quote from the documentary, “The empire was strong, we weren’t afraid of anyone. Everybody bought little buttons and white flags and sang songs, there was no feeling of despair about it at all”. What civilians in 1914 to 1918 were made aware of through newspaper articles and photos was very different from the horrifying images, videos, and writings of the Great War we all have access to today. I could easily search for any information I wanted, even the original black and white film in this documentary is now colourized. The closest they could get to any graphics or descriptions of war life was from the newspaper’s blurry black-and-white photos and idealized writings of the war.

Anger was a prominent emotion I felt while they described the treatment of the soldiers and the recruiting of the guards. I asked myself why they were letting such young boys sign up. Why weren’t their parents stopping them? Why isn’t the Sargent stopping them? Why isn’t anyone stopping them? It filled me with a useless rage. Nearing the end of the war after millions of soldiers had been injured and killed the old soldiers were retelling how nice it felt to sip tea, a smoke, or a shot of rum. Again, it made me mad that just the absolute basic pleasures in life were so uncommon to them. It made me mad that the civilians didn’t understand, “People didn’t seem to realize what a terrible thing war was…They hadn’t any conception – how could they?”. It is not the civilian’s fault that they couldn’t comprehend. But it still makes me mad. The government and media outlets that made the war seem as if it would be over in two weeks made me mad. It makes me mad that the trauma the young men experienced went untreated and their mental well-being was ignored. I felt sad about the men both young and old who had to suffer the horror of the war. It made me sad to think of the families that suffered the loss of close family and friends, and it made me sad to think of the lasting repercussions for this generation and the next.

PW #1 – Annoying Chickens

I think we can all agree the chickens were annoying.

I awoke in the early morning to the guttural cries of our cursed avian brethren. The screams rattled all ears that had the misfortune of consciousness. I tossed and turned trying to block out the infernal screeches but to no avail. I had no other option than to arise. The morning air was unyieldingly crisp causing a trail of shivers down my spine.

Breakfast was served, cereal the main course. Alas, I was hoping for eggs benedict. Perhaps the fates would smile on me and we would be blessed with an egg dish the following morning.  Chicken fricassee, chicken cacciatore, chicken teriyaki or a lovely roast chicken accompanied my thoughts as I paddle-boarded the morning away.

After lunch, we had a conversation occasionally being interrupted by the incessant bedevilled cackling of our Gallus gallus domesticus neighbours. Card games followed and after another fowless dinner, we retired to our flimsy abode.

Falling asleep was arduous, the dinosaurs’ long-lost relatives keeping us awake.  I turned to face my tent companion, reiterating my displeasure at the commotion. We left the following morning and I had chicken for dinner.




Get to Know Me! – Julia Street

Hello! My name is Julia Street. I was born in Vancouver and lived there for almost four years until my parents decided to move to Sooke, a small town just west of Victoria. I transferred to Brookes Westshore in September of 2021 meaning I am starting my 3rd year. I am interested in drawing, reading, history, rollerskating and listening to my mom and brother debate about politics at the dinner table.

As a reader, I am usually very consistent. Reading almost every day. This summer I have been trying to adapt myself to reading more classic novels as I usually read fantasy books from my local library. Currently, I am reading The Spy Who Came from the Cold by John Le Carré which I have been finding a bit difficult to follow but a good challenge. As much as I enjoy reading if I do not find a book interesting or the writing style is not to my taste I find it excruciatingly painful to read (Sometimes it will take me months depending on the length). On the contrary, if I find myself enjoying a book I will often indulge in the pleasure of reading it all afternoon.

Writing is not my strong suit. I enjoy journaling in my free time but academic and creative writing has never been something I thrive at. Academic writing such as essays are easier for me because they contain a structure. However, comma splices and repetition of vocabulary are issues I need to work on. Poems and creative always take me so long just to finish even one paragraph or a sentence. I either have too many or too little ideas. When I do creative writing I am not fond of sharing it and get caught up in the opinions of others too easily. Despite my faults in writing, I do enjoy when I get to analyze and write about a topic I am interested in.