Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Looking Past the Skin

Welcome back spicy scorpion squad! For our final litspiration challenge, we were asked to create a theme statement for The House of the Scorpion. After long consideration, we reached the final consensus. The theme… drum roll, please… is…  Reluctance to look deeper than the skin will blind your vision!

For our project we made a mobile with cards of each character, they each have a symbol, quote and blurb. It shows how we think these characters are after we look deeply in them. Each symbol means something and you can view that here:

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Harkness Discussion #3

This discussion was excellent, most times we needed to help the quieter people and ask the louder people to settle down. In this conversation, everybody was engaged and stated their options. The discussion was deep and really got to this problem we wanted to address. As a joke are a group had signs that said: "speak louder" or "quiet" if needed.  After evaluating the recording its seems the best point of this amazing talk was when this idea of El Patrons and clones were introduced or at around eight minutes and twenty-two seconds. Though it was a great discussion our group could still improve on some things. Mainly speaking louder so you the audience could hear everyone. By having everyone speak louder the discussion will be clearer and overall better.

Maria's Twitter Training

Welcome back to the spicy Scorpion squad!! Today we will be jumping into a character analyzation of one of the main characters in The House of the Scorpion, Maria Mendoza.
Our duty for this litspiration challenge was to create a twitter feed for one of the characters and really examine the different aspects of characterization through this twitter task.

Maria is A very prominent character in the novel, she is often present in the book to drive a bunch of the narrative, much of the story lies upon her existence in matt’s universe. Her companionship toward Matt, the protagonist generally affects his actions or feelings because she is matt's love interest, which in pop-culture, love is heavily used as an anchoring point in a person's life.  

. Anyway without further ado, let's jump right into the interactions of Maria Mendoza on twitter.


Through these first two posts I tried to examine Maria’s relationships with other characters, so we took a look at Matt, and her sister Emilia.
Twitter is really about thinking out loud and getting your ideas out there, so we allowed maria to share those random thoughts. We see her actions and ideas toward different characters, (often shared to Matt), which really develops her flatness from a flat character but around developed character.
Matt and Maria share a convoluted relationship, it can go through times of trust and friendship all the way to hate and loathing, it really is quite a unique but quite realistic. It really shows how maria’s feelings about a person can change around with their emotions too. “Well, I think you’re a pig! And I’m not going to be mean to Tom just because you don’t like him. Besides everyone thinks you’re awful.” - Maria (Pg.67).
“Throwing her arms around him and giving him a big kiss. “There! That shows I've forgiven you. Gosh, I’ve missed you!” (Pg.155)
We also get to see maria’s sisterly conflicts with Emilia just like any siblings, “Don’t act so superior. You yell your head off if you get an itty-bitty splinter in your finger,” Emilia said. “Do not!” ‘do so!” “I hate you!” “Ask me if I care, ” Said Emilia(Pg.22).

This next post by maria is really supposed to quote her actions in chapter 15 at El Viejo's funeral the priest casually calls Matt and “Unbaptized Limb of Satan” in front of a mass of people, publicly humiliating him beyond the edge of the world, but Maria’s kind-heartedness pushes her to defend Matt, even though it would most likely have severe consequences. Personally, we thought, who would do that?! After all “Matt” had done to her (or so she thought) she steps up to defend him,
“Would you take a Dog to church?” - “Saint Francis would take a dog to church,” Maria said in a clear, high voice. (Pg.154)
In this post we get to see the essence of some of Maria’s values, we understand that she is quite a caring, second-chance giving human often overlooking flaws and finding the true meaning of anything. Maria will challenge popular beliefs if it benefits someone she cares about.  “So I realized I was being unfair and should forgive you. After all, wolves don't know they aren't supposed to eat peasants.” -Maria (again) (pg.158)
So we took a quote from the religious figure she had reported at the Priest in order to save Matt, this quote is there to demonstrate Maria’s loyalness toward other characters, and her willingness to voice her opinion when others need it most, no matter how lousy they treat her.

Like most books there are rivalries between characters, Maria isn’t any strong ones. But she is friends with the biggest one. If have read this book you know Matt and tom aren’t the best of friends, and Maria is caught between them. She has been friend’s with Tom for years and can’t see his flaws, she’s also friends with matt most of the time. On her twitter she clearly represents has she feels about this two characters. She liked the tweet of Tom calling Matt a pig but also retweeted a post of matt making fun of tom. Her relationship is like a teeter totter rocking back and forth as different events push it up or down. From the beginning of the book she and matt were friends, but over the years as toms and mat hatred grew she started being around tom more and now she and matt are trying to escape together.
If you looked at her tweets, retweets, and likes I’m sure you could see more evidence of this, She believes in second chances and often allows them when they are not deserved, she never wants to hurt anyone which has gotten her in lots of trouble. Maria isn’t always consistent in her actions, sometimes dropping everything to help matt or tom or other times she couldn’t care less. It is common for her character to ignore people then suddenly break down and give up. When everyone believed matt killed furball maria ignored matt for weeks then suddenly was his best friend. She is confused and inconsistent into the way she acts and treats her friends but she will always make up somehow.

Maria is a pretty likeable character right, not much evidence here but hey if you could you would probably be friends with her right, well to get on maria's bad side is pretty rare but on occasion, you might just end up on ‘that’ side of the spectrum, anyway, this is maria’s ‘who to follow’ section on her twitter, and who is on it, well Felicia of course! If you’ve ever read as far as page 163, you would know that Felicia Alacran, someone who seems so trustworthy admits to her son in the computer room that she in fact murdered Furball.
“So I poured one of … my bottles on the hamburger that idiot clone left behind. ‘Come here, Furball,’ I called. He didn’t want to leave his bag, but I … dumped him out … on the meat. He ate the whole thing.”(maria’s dog) which was definitely unexpected (I thought tom would’ve done it).
Unfortunately for Felicia, Maria and Matt had heard the whole thing from the secret passage, I guess we can assume that Maria wasn’t going to fall for Felicia’s neutral behavior anymore, that’s why Maria has definitely hit the BLOCK button on Felicia, due to her dastardly evil behavior.

One thing that we might agree on is Maria’s Naive and blindness to certain people or situations, yes it may just be her inner forgiveness and kindness for everyone or that she really is completely observant.
To include this feature of maria’s character we just simply put it in her bio, almost like she knows it but treats her flaw like a joke. Maria thinks she can help anyone or any situation but some are just out of reach for anyone.
 “I don’t mind Tom - much. He’s getting more like Macgregor, but I can change him.” “You can't change Tom,” Mat said. “Patience and love can do anything,” Maria said.  (Pg.209) I mean ok sure you can but didn’t you just witness Tom saying something like this, “Did you see Matt kill the dog,” Tom asked eagerly, I would suspect something was more than a little wrong when he asked that question.
Maria’s heroic, sympathetic and “second-chance giving” behavior can be quite a positive attribute for her to possess, but really her irrational beliefs that anyone could just be good if she made them could fuel a cauldron that could spill all over her at any point. “Tom insisted on playing with Maria. He made her cry, but she always forgave him.” (Pg.65)
Whoah, this isn’t Instagram, is it? no , of course not you silly, this is Maria’s photo and video album on twitter, as you may be able to tell 50% of her cover photos here are of Furball her beloved pet dog that, well, Him and Maria are inseparable, “Tam Lin complained that it wasn’t a dog, but a hairy tumor growing out of her arm. He offered to take her to a doctor and have it removed.” (Pg.94), As Tam Lin describes it, Maria and Furball are almost like one being, you tried to separate them and they would just magnetically snap back together.
It was heartbreaking for her when Furball was murdered because he was supposedly like a keepsake or representation of her mother that left her long ago, “That was why Maria clung so desperately to keepsakes. She was terrified of losing the things she loved.” (Pg.198) Maria was petrified by the loss of Furball and probably mourned for weeks after, but that might not have necessarily been a bad thing, maybe losing furball was like a weight off of her shoulders, that allowed her to lose that fear and break free of the chains that had scarred her as a young child. Then again she could fall into a relapse and totally fall apart without the gleeful nature of furball to keep her company…  

And of course we have Maria’s handle for twitter, @itsmemaria_5567, I think our group chose this simply random because the phrase  “It’s Me” has the appeal that this person is out there adventurous, brave, willing to speak up, you know. Like, hello world it’s me! Anyway, maria’s expression and persona are not afraid to be criticized for her actions, “Maria, Dada will have a fit when he finds out what you’re doing” “Be sure and tell him!” retorted Maria” (Pg. 154). And really does step out of her comfort zone to ensure safety for those she cares about even if it puts her life in jeopardy, “If you’re wrong,” he told Maria, “we’ll die.” We’ll die together, dearest.” (Pg.222). Maria really isn’t shy and worried about her image around others. That's why she wouldn’t care very much about what the numbers she uses in her handle, it’s just a random selection of numerical values (5567) or maybe the five is symbolic of the age her mother left her, hmmm maybe we’ll never know, sometimes Maria can be secretive and mysterious …

Go check out Maria's full account HERE

Remember to join our Spicy Scorpion Squad to stay updated on all future challenges or updates, until next time... 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Harkness Discussion #2 The Middle Ages

Harkness discussions can be challenging for quieter people to participate as some people take over or there scared to state their opinion, so my group has made it a goal to support these people. At the end of every question discussion, the moderator will ask if anyone had any more comments before continuing. For the more talkative people, we asked if they could let someone have a turn or directed questions to other people. Many different parts of the discussion were good but if you listen to the recording you can see our best moments were at 2:30 to 3:00 minutes as the discussion flowed and everybody was talking. Everything can have improvement and next time I hope we can better support the more talkative people with a sign to let someone else have a turn.

Here is our 2nd harkness discussion about the first 100 pages of the book:

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Setting of Opium

Welcome everyone to our first litspiration challenge for our reading of The House of the Scorpion, in this very first project we were asked to critically examine the setting of the book. To Bring our knowledge to life we made a brochure (click on the picture to view) to present our understanding the setting so far in this creative novel. Understanding the setting of a book is the first step towards understanding the theme of the book.