Showing 2621 - 2630 of 2735 Literature annotations

In the Nursing Home

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A very short poem, describing the increasingly circumscribed life of a dying woman in a nursing home, a woman who "is like a horse grazing / a hill pasture that someone makes / smaller by coming every night / to pull the fences in and in." The final lines are a moving plea for God to bring the woman to a gentle death.

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Eating the Cookies

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The speaker describes cleaning out the house of a friend/relative who has recently died. She rewards each small accomplishment in her sorting through of the dead woman's possessions by eating one cookie from a tin of homemade cookies that was sent by the woman's cousin before she died. As she reaches the end of her cleaning, the speaker takes the last cookie from the tin: "I took it up / and sniffed it, and before eating it, / pressed it against my forehead, because / it seemed like the next thing to do."

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What Came to Me

Kenyon, Jane

Last Updated: Oct-21-1996
Annotated by:
Dittrich, Lisa

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

A very short poem, in which the speaker, sorting through old china, finds a dead friend/relative's gravy boat "with a hard, brown / drop of gravy still / on the porcelain lip." This discovery leads the speaker to truly grieve the loss of this person in a way she hadn't before.

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To Room Nineteen

Lessing, Doris

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Susan and Matthew Rawlings marry in their late twenties and raise four children. When the youngest child goes off to school Susan, who quit her job to mother, does not experience the sense of freedom that she expected. She feels simultaneously as if she has nothing to do worth doing and never has a spare moment to herself. Her day is taken up in waiting for the children to come home, consulting with the maid or worrying about dinner. She becomes anxious and distant, pulling away from her husband, who begins to have affairs.

Finally, in order to get some time alone, she rents a hotel room every afternoon where she just sits and thinks. Her husband assumes she is having an affair and tracks her down. Knowing that his rational world will not recognize her "irrational" feelings she tells him that she is indeed having an affair. The next day, she returns to the room and kills herself.

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The Last Decision

Angelou, Maya

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Nixon, Lois LaCivita

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

Angelou’s four stanza poem is narrated by an elderly person, probably a woman. In each of the stanzas, the proud and forthright speaker dismisses the desire to stay alive. She sizes up her circumstances pragmatically--the inconveniences and disabilities. She can no longer bother with the print that has become "too small," the food that is "too rich," the tiring concerns of her children, and, finally, the weariness of life. Each is addressed in its own stanza, but the concluding refrain is the same; she will give up reading, then eating, then listening--and then life. "Today," she says rather convincingly in her final line, "I’ll give up living."

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The Devil

Maupassant, Guy de

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

A young farmer's mother is dying. The farmer, Honore, is concerned about his mother but he is even more concerned about getting his wheat in before the rains come. He is prepared to leave her to die alone, but at the insistence of the doctor agrees to hire Mother Rapet to tend his mother. Mother Rapet is an old washerwoman who supplements her income by watching the dying and preparing them for burial. La Rapet offers to work for Honore for a daily wage. Honore refuses, for he knows how obstinate his mother is and fears she will take a long time to die making La Rapet's services expensive. He insists on a set rate and La Rapet eventually agrees.

After three days, the mother still has not died and La Rapet realizes that she is losing money. Taking matters into her own hands, she tells the dying woman that at the moment before death everyone sees the devil. She then wraps herself in a blanket, puts a pot on her head, and throws a pail across the room making a huge noise. The dying woman thinks she is the devil and struggles to leap out of bed; instead, she collapses on the floor, dead.

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White-Jacket

Melville, Herman

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

White-jacket is a sailor on the U.S. frigate Neversink. His nickname derives from a jacket stitched together from leftover scraps of rags. This jacket makes the other sailors superstitious and as the ship heads towards Antarctica his mess group kicks him out and he joins another group, serving under the much-liked petty officer, Jack Chase.

The journey is a dangerous one. A man falls overboard. There are constant floggings for the merest inkling of insurrection. All the crew members are forced to watch each flogging. A doctor stands by to stop the flogging if the victim's life is endangered, but he is so callous he doesn't stop a single one. The doctor also prescribes medications, but never attempts to change the conditions that cause the sailors' illnesses, like malnutrition and exposure.

When the ship lands in Rio de Janeiro, Dr. Cadwaller Cuticle boards. In order to show off to the ship's doctors, he amputates the healthy leg of a sailor, who is terribly frightened as the doctors discuss his impending fate in front of him. The man dies of shock. When the boat continues on its journey, White-jacket accidentally falls from the riggings. He barely escapes being speared when a ship-mate mistakes his jacket for a whale. He is fished out and sent up again to complete his task.

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The Law of Life

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

Old Koskoosh was the chief of an Eskimo tribe. Now he is blind and lame, and his tribe is preparing to leave him alone in the snow to face his death as they travel on without him. His son leaves him a pile of sticks to feed the fire beside him. When the fire dies, so will he. As he waits alone for death, he thinks of the time he left his own father in the snow. He also remembers having seen a sick, old moose killed by wolves when it straggled behind the rest of the herd. "It was the law of all life," he decides. When he feels the cold nose of a wolf on him and hears the pack's footsteps surround him, he first fights them off, then gives in.

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The Scarlet Plague

London, Jack

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

It is the year 2073. A boy and his grandfather, clad in animal skins, are walking through deep woods. Having fought off a bear, they come to a fire on the beach, where several other boys sit watching their sheep. Their grandfather asks for a crab and they tease him with empty shells until he cries. Finally, they relent and ask him to tell his story about the past and the scarlet plague.

The grandfather had been a literature professor at The University of California-San Francisco. In the summer of 2013, rumors began that a new plague was killing people in New York. Those infected developed a scarlet rash, had a few convulsions, then settled into a sleep-like state in which they became numb and died, their bodies decomposing almost immediately. The entire process took at most an hour, but sometimes as little as ten minutes. Bacteriologists died even as they tried to find a vaccine. People began dying by the millions. The plague finally reached San Francisco and mayhem broke out. The wealthy tried to flee the city and the poor murdered them and looted in revenge for their long oppression.

The professor survived. He lived alone in the Grand Canyon for three years, then set out to see if anyone else was alive, finding a workingman and his woman slave. He met others and began a family which included the boys to whom he is telling his story. There is no means of communicating across the country or to other nations, since the fires set by looters consumed nearly every structure. Society has been set back to a nomad existence. The boys do not believe most of their grandfather’s story. They fight amongst one another and with him in a language that is only partly English. Finally, they rise, leaving the grandfather to straggle along behind into the wilderness.

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Anti-Clockwise (2)

Abse, Dannie

Last Updated: Oct-17-1996
Annotated by:
Aull, Felice

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Summary:

The narrator is watching his "grey-haired neighbor" starting on an early-morning run "anti-clockwise around the block," trying to turn the clock backwards in pursuit of youth and health. The narrator sees this as the age-old quest for virility, satirically recalling historic figures who sought to preserve or enhance their sexual prowess. But he recognizes that these are supremely human impulses--"Don't mock, only the young don't wish to be younger." He muses that perhaps the current fads of jogging and health food are better than some of the more gruesome practices in which mankind has been known to engage.

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