Book Club Reflection

I enjoyed working on this book club. I liked being able to pick out a book I found interesting and discussing it with others who also found it interesting. I feel that my group worked well together despite our conflicting schedules. We broke our work up into parts so that we each tried to relate the book to two other works that we read in the class, I chose “Tell all the Truth, but tell it slant–” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”. I feel that by analyzing the book and relating it back to the course gave me a new appreciation for the novel as well as helping me reiterate what I have learned about the works that we have read in the class. I do however, wish that we started this book club earlier so that our group had more time to discuss the book and work on our presentation so that the amount we spent on our pieces were more even in length and content, also it was hard to get together when we all had different schedules.


“…and I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.”

At this point in the narrative, Douglas has had a long battle with his master Mr. Covey, who has whipped Douglas many times; and  after being whipped so many times, Douglas fights back and beats Mr. Covey. After being beaten, Mr. Covey never laid a hand on Douglas again. This victory for Douglas reignited his passion for seeking freedom, “It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and…inspired me with a determination to be free” (p. 55). It’s almost like Douglas has been risen from the dead when he fights Mr. Covey, as if he has been dead before when he allowed Mr. Covey to whip him and now that Douglas fought back, he’s alive again, free. Douglas may still be a slave in a legal sense, but now that he’s fought back, he is free and will never allow himself to be a slave again in his mind.

Slave owners would deprive their slaves of basic information such as their birthday and who their parents were to prevent them from developing a sense of individualism. In the first chapter, Douglas mentions how he is confused as to why a white girl knows her birthday, and he doesn’t. Douglas felt like he should have the same privilege of knowing his own birthday. Slave owners would also keep their slaves illiterate to prevent the spread of slaves’ stories–if no slave could write about their treatment, no one would know the severity of their treatment. Slave owners intentionally keep their slaves ignorant to keep them under control, Douglas realizes this at a young age and seeks out knowledge so that he won’t be able to control and will one day be free.

Barbaric Yawp

In Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” he says he will “sound [his] barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world”. It was hard to find a direct definition of barbaric yawp (jc_33618 on yahoo answers says that a barbaric yawp is a battle cry to let those around you know you are there and Dead Poets Society says that a barbaric yawp is a way to let those around you know that there is something great inside you). To find the meaning of a barbaric yawp we can define the words individually: barbaric means animalistic and uncivilized and a yawp is a cry or yell. In other words a barbaric yawp is an uncivilized cry or an animalistic yell, either way it doesn’t sound like something a normal human would make, which is most likely why Whitman used it–he’s not a normal human. Whitman also claims not to be a poet and poets definitely don’t make barbaric yawps.

Perhaps Whitman’s “Song of Myself” is his barbaric yawp in the sense that it’s his battle cry and a way to let everyone around him know that there is something great inside of him.

Blackrocks BreweryBarbaric Yawp

Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

“I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,/ Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.” (Section 48). I found these lines the most interesting because it sounds like Whitman is saying that he is more wonderful that God. He’s not saying that there isn’t a God, instead he’s saying that God is everything and everywhere and trying to search for him is a waste of time and people should be more focused on themselves and others than trying to find something that is everywhere. I personally don’t believe in a God, but I think that if I did, I’d have the same view as Whitman; that finding myself is more important than finding God.

The American Scholar

“One must be an inventor to read well.” I found this sentence difficult mostly because I disagreed with it. Why must one be an inventor to read well? I am no inventor of any kind, but I feel I read well. I can read most words (some I have never seen before) and I understand what I am reading (and if I don’t, I know what else to read to help me understand). Maybe I’m misinterpreting what the speaker is saying and that’s why I find it difficult to agree with. He might mean something else when he says inventor; maybe an inventor of thoughts rather than of things. In that sense, maybe he’s suggesting that a reader has to be imaginative and creative in order for her to fully comprehend what she is reading. The next line states “As the proverb says, ‘He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies, must carry out the wealth of the Indies'”. This made me think that in order to read well, you have to be able to comprehend what you will read before you read it, just like if you were to go to the Indies to bring home their wealth, you have to be able to carry it before you take it. However, I know many readers that have no individual thoughts, but love to read and fully comprehend what they are reading. My sister is an example, I have never seen her have an original thought, everything she did or felt originated from something else. But, she could read, and she could read well. 

Overall, this piece wasn’t difficult to understand–it was quite sad and beautiful. Just this sentence seemed to rub me the wrong way which is why I found it the most difficult sentence.


Hi, I’m Chelsea, I’m 21 years old and am a native San Franciscan. My mom’s side of the family has played huge roles in developing San Francisco as a community; my great-grandfather, Edward J. Nevin, was chief of police in China Town for 34 years in the early-mid 1900’s and helped eliminate much of the racism during that time, my great uncle Mike was a senator of California and helped build many halfway houses in San Francisco as well as expanding BART past the Daly City station, many of my uncles are active in the San Francisco police department and community services, and then there’s me: a quiet English major at SFSU. I don’t plan on becoming a police officer, senator or halfway house developer, I plan on becoming a teacher (haven’t decided between high school and college yet, but I do want to teach English). 

I grew up outside of SF in the East Bay in a relatively small town called Danville. Danville has about 35,000 people the majority being white, there are a handful of black people one of which being E-40. I never really ventured outside of Danville, so going to school in such a diverse city, such as San Francisco, is refreshing (rich white people can get annoying after a while).

I am the oldest of three, I have a younger brother and a younger sister. My parents are pretty awesome and I think it’s pretty awesome that I can say that about my parents. My parents grew up in strict Catholic homes and are now Atheist and refuse to force me and my siblings into a religion. My home is pretty liberal, open and supportive and I guess that’s pretty rare nowadays. 

Hopefully when I become a teacher I can create the same sort of environment for my students that my parents have done for me. And hopefully, I’ll graduate within the next two years and be a teacher within the next four or five. Wish me luck!



As a born performer, this page will serve as another unfiltered stage.


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