The Analysis of Twelve Angry Men: MINORITY vs MAJORITY


346637906_640

If I usually make reviews of novels and short stories, this time I’d like to make a review of a play script. I got this play script from my literature lecturer when I was in my 3rd, or maybe 4th semester. Twelve Angry Men is a play which is adapted from a ‘teleplay’ written by Reginald Rose in 1954. This play came into its debut 50 years later in 2004. In this play, Rose is trying to show how minority can influence majority through juror number eight character.

The play is begun when the jury has just finished listening to six days of trial proceedings of a 19-year-old boy who is accused of murdering his own father. There are three testimonies given and the jurors have to decide whether or not the boy guilty. Then, the conflict is begun.

Among twelve jurors there is only one juror who votes not guilty for the boy. It is obviously that the other jurors are confused by this. How come there is one juror who votes not guilty for a boy who murders his own father — they think.

What makes this play more interesting is about how juror number eight can influence the other jurors. He, step by step, reveals the evidence as fancy and convinces the other jurors that it was not the boy who killed the father. However, it is not an easy job, of course.

At the beginning, juror number eight is not confident enough with his vote. He couldn’t explain his reason in voting not guilty for the boy. Furthermore, there are many pressures from other jurors, especially from juror number three, who vote for guilty. And this situation makes juror number eight difficult to maintain his vote as the first part of the play.

Three: Somebody’s in left field. (To eight) You think he’s not guilty?

Eight :(quietly) I don’t know.

Three: I never saw a guiltier man in my life. You sat right in court and heard the same thing I did. The man’s a dangerous killer. You could see it. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act one, page 492)

Anyway, juror number eight is very consistent with his vote. He brave to vote not guilty because he feels that the boy’s life is in his hands. His decision will lead the boy into dead penalty or not.

Eight: There were eleven votes for guilty. It’s not easy for me to raise my hand and send a boy off to die without talking about it first. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act one, page 492)

On the other hand, the other jurors are not thinking in the same way. They only see the case from the surface. They do not consider if there’s any reasonable doubt. They see the testimonies as fact while juror number eight isn’t.

Then, again, juror number eight’s job is not easy. But, because he is consistent with his vote he can influence the other jurors. The first juror who is influenced by juror number eight and finally changes his vote in the second vote is juror number nine. He believes that there are not enough evidences to send the boy to dead. Furthermore, he also believes that the old man, who gives a testimony, lied.

Nine: No. He wouldn’t really lie. But perhaps he’d make himself believe that he heard those words and recognized the boy’s face. (Rose. Twelve Angry Men. Act two, page 590)

It is very interesting to see how a person, alone, can influence a number of people who have different opinion. This phenomenon is called as minority influence — a form of social influence, which takes place when a majority is being influenced to accept the beliefs or behaviour of a minority .

Serge Moscovici and Nemeth (1974) argued that “minority influence is effective as it is consistent over time and there is agreement among the members of the minority”. This is also shown by juror number eight and juror number nine (especially juror number eight). Since the first vote, juror number eight has voted for not guilty. In addition, juror number eight also gives some supporting reasons which reveal the evidence to be fancy. At the end of the play, then, juror number eight can convince the other jurors that the boy is not guilty.

I don’t usually read play scripts or watch play performances because of their complexity of conflicts. It’s like too heavy for my brain to digest them. However, this play script is an exceptional. I like it. This play could engage my emotion and thoughts. It’s like I’m being dragged in the room, where the jurors have their arguments, and then watch them with my very own eyes. I like the plot. I like the conflicts. I like the tense. I like the mystery.

I got many things to learn from the play. One of them is that don’t afraid to be different. It’s just as shown by juror number eight. He is not afraid to voice his opinion although he is alone. But confidence is not enough. He has to have supporting evidences to strengthen his opinion — to make sure that he is not only boasting. Besides, the play also teaches me to see a problem not only from one side (subjective). I have to be objective in evaluating a problem.

References:

“Twelve Angry Men” – Characters from Reginald Rose’s Drama. About.com Plays/Drama. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/twelveangry.htm

“Twelve Angry Men” Study Guide: Plot Summary and Study Questions. About.com Plays/Drama. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/twelvethemes.htm

Twelve Angry Men Study Guide. Book Rags. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-twelve-angry-men/themes.html

Twelve Angry Men (play). Wikipedia. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Angry_Men_%28play%29

Minority influence. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 27, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minority_influence

Advertisements

The Analysis of Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Anti-Mainstream Gull


Jonathan_Livingston_Seagull

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a novel written by Richard Bach, an American writer and pilot who has written many novels; Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), A Gift of Wings (1974), Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (1977). Most of his novels tell about flying. It is because he loves flying since he was seventeen.

This novel tells about a bird named Jonathan who feels bored with his daily life. He wants to find something new and more meaningful things in his life. Even if he faces many obstacles in achieving his dream, he still walks on his way.

Seagull itself is a symbol in this novel. Besides seagull, there are many other symbols used in this novel. Seagulls, eating, flying, and heaven are the significant symbols in the novel.

This novel uses animal, seagull, as its main character. We will see it as a fable at a glance. But there is something deeper inside the novel. Seagull is a symbol which represents the human being.

By using seagull, Bach relates it with human being; how people deal with their life. Sometime people are faced to a dilemmatic problem; whether to follow their conscience or society opinion. Some people may succeed and some are not.

Those who succeed in dealing with their problems will transform into a higher level person. And those who fail in dealing with their problems will be dragged into a zone which is called “comfort zone”, just be ordinary; become a part of the society. It doesn’t mean that become a part of the society is bad. It’s just that they too enjoying the “comfort zone”. They will stay in that position in order to save their position in the society.

That phenomenon is related to “eating” in the novel by Bach. Ordinary seagulls learn to fly to get food and not more as Bach mentioned in his novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight―how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating (p. 14, part 1).

So when they see Jonathan practicing to fly higher, the Flock considers it as betrayal. They see Jonathan is different from the other. Jonathan is not ordinary.

“…for his reckless irresponsibility,” the solemn voice intoned, “violating the dignity and tradition of the Gull Family…” (p. 34, part 1).

Jonathan is a gull which tries to escape from the ordinary. He wants to fly higher―not like other seagulls―and that’s his target; his perfection. Therefore, he has to face the consequences of being different. He has to leave the Flock, practice hard, and be alone. This relates to human being. When people have decided to make a commitment in their life, they have to take all the consequences following whether they like it or not.

Successfully reaching his target―to fly higher―Jonathan finally reaches heaven where he transforms to be a more mature gull. Besides, he also becomes more religious. In there, he (Jonathan) realizes that perfection is only one more step towards our true nature which is in the image of the Great Gull (God).

Here, we can see that we can find heaven anywhere as we had reached our perfection, understood ourselves, and also understood others. It’s like what Chiang said to Jonathan when first time he reaches heaven, “Remember, Jonathan, heaven isn’t a place or a time, because place and time are so very meaningless” (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, p. 58, part 2). He also said:

“You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.” (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, p. 55, part 2)

It is obvious, then, that we can have heaven in our life, our family, or in our job. It is just about how we maintain our problem and see the limitations as a challenge. Use our knowledge and be confident, then we can find the way as Jonathan said to Fletcher.

“Poor Fletch. Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly” (p. 92, part 3).

What about the society? Well, it is a complicated one. If we relate to the novel, society (the Flock) didn’t support Jonathan at all. They sent Jonathan out of the Flock, let him live alone, and consider him as a freak. Nothing’s good did by the society.

However, we cannot be such an egoistic person. Even if the society did something wrong to us, we have to share our knowledge to them, teach them to be better people. It is just like what Chiang said to Jonathan that he had to learn about love. It’s hard to do, but he had to. Jonathan, then, taught that to Fletcher.

“Oh, Fletch, you don’t love that! You don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That’s what I mean by love. It’s fun, when you get the knack of it” (p. 91, part 3).

From the novel we learn that our (people) biggest obstacle is ourselves; our thought. If we keep thinking that we are ordinary, then we will become ordinary for the rest of our life. But if we always think that we can be extraordinary, so we are. It is all about choice, then, whether or not to be extraordinary.

References:

Bach, Richard. (1972). Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Great Britain: Turnstone Press Ltd.

Hackworth, Allen. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Allenhackworth.com. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://allenhackworth.com/prose/jonathan.htm

Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Livingston_Seagull

Richard Bach. Wikipedia. Retrieved October 14, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Bach

An Analysis of “A Thousand Splendid Suns”: A TRANSFORMATION


about

Recently, because of tight schedules, I kind of abandoned my room – let it turn into a messy room. And yesterday I just got the chance to tidy it up. When I was cleaning the room, I found some novels which reminded me to my university time — the time when I was a university student. They were novels that should be read in my prose class. And one that caught my attention most was “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, a novel which gave me so many things to learn and a novel which able to make me cry since the first chapter.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is a novel written by Khaled Hosseini in 2007. This novel is Hosseini’s second novel. His first novel is “The Kite Runner” which an international bestseller. In writing his second novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, Hosseini was inspired by his visit to Afghanistan as UNHCR goodwill envoy in 2006.

In his visit Hosseini found out that Afghanistan at that time was extremely different compared to Afghanistan Hosseini once lived there. Poverty, hunger, and violence were all Hosseini see in Afghanistan; war brings them there. One that made Hosseini shocked was the role of women in Afghanistan; no protection and education. Back to the time when Hosseini was child, women in Afghanistan were equal with men. They could go to school to get better education and find proper job, just like his mother who could teach Farsi and History in Kabul.

Mariam and Laila are two major characters in Hosseini’s novel, “A thousand Splendid Suns”. Both of them are the representation of women in Afghanistan. They have different background, ethnics, and age but share the same experience. Something that really interesting for me is the characteristic of Mariam; how she transforms from a simple village girl into a great woman.

The story of the novel begins independently between Mariam and Laila since they live in different house. The connection between them started when a bomb fell into Laila’s house and killed her parents. Rasheed who is Mariam husband took her into his house. This is also the starting point of Mariam’s transformation.

Since Mariam was child, her mother, Nana, called her as harami — a child whose parents are not married, illegitimate daughter. This makes Mariam feel not accepted by her own mother. Moreover she lived in a kolba of a village named Herat where gossip can spread fast.

“You are a clumsy little harami. This is reward for everything I’ve endured. An heirloom-breaking, clumsy little harami.” (p.4)

Mariam had no friends. She spent all day long playing by herself. She was fond of playing marbles which were named as her family members. She couldn’t go to school, and the only lesson she got was Koran lesson from Mullah Faizullah, her mentor. These conditions caused Mariam tend to become an introvert girl. She preferred to do everything by herself and not depended to other people, even to her mother.

Nana, Mariam’s mother, was desperate by her life. Once she left by a man who almost married and then threw away by Jalil, Mariam’s father. Every time Mariam talked about Jalil to her mother, Nana always said that Jalil was a bad man. This made Mariam did not respect her mother. Moreover, Nana always called her harami and blamed her for Nana’s disgraced life, which made Jalil as the one Mariam praised.

A high expectation of her father later caused her fall and disappointed. She always believed that Jalil loved her very much. But one day when Nana died because she was hanging herself on a tree, Mariam realized that Jalil was not as good as she thought before.

Mariam’s disappointment got bigger since Jalil picked a man to be her husband. Rasheed was the name of that chosen man. He was a very rich man with many wives and children. Rasheed was forty years old, while Mariam was fifteen. At first, Mariam refused to get married. She thought that it was her stepmother’s effort to throw her away from Jalil’s house. But, the fact showed that it was actually Jalil who planned the marriage. Mariam’s trust to Jalil broken suddenly. Her sadness became deeper and deeper that she got married by forced.

“I thought about you all the time. I used to pray that you’d live to be a hundred years old. I didn’t know. I didn’t know that you were ashamed of me.” (p. 54)

Mariam and Rasheed got married. At first Mariam isolated herself inside the house. It happened until Rasheed encouraged and asked Mariam not to just stay in her room and bewailed her condition.

“… He crossed his arms.” I figured you might need some time. But this is absurd. A week’s gone and … Well, then, as of tomorrow morning I expect you to start behaving like a wife. Fahmidi? Is that understood?” (p.63)

Rasheed at first treated Mariam righteously as a wife. But, since Mariam couldn’t give him a son, Rasheed turned into a very mean husband. Being abused by Rasheed and nine times failed to have a baby made Mariam become a tough and mature woman. Besides that, seeing other women in her neighbourhood, who have many children, made Mariam become a woman who accepted her life realistically.

For the next eighteen years Mariam accepted her life together with Rasheed. But one day Rasheed came to the house with a wounded girl, Laila, a fourteen years old girl. Rasheed’s interest toward Laila, a fourteen years old girl, never came to Mariam. Rasheed’s decision to make Laila as his next wife hurt Mariam so deep. Mariam felt that Rasheed betrayed her. All her patience, sacrifice, and loyalty were nothing for Rasheed.

On the other side, Rasheed treated Laila so well. This made Mariam felt jealous toward Laila. For Mariam, Laila’s coming was only a reminder for her failure of being a real wife for Rasheed.

Mariam’s ego ended, later when she realized that Laila got the same treatment from Rasheed. She felt that she had to act. In her thought, Laila should not be like her; a woman with dark past life, unloved and rejected by her own parents, who couldn’t do anything to change it. Mariam decided that it was the time to change. To protect Laila and her children was then Mariam’s aim in her life. Even though it meant that it would cost her life.
“…And Mariam could not, would not, allow that to happen. He’d taken so much from her in twenty-seven years of marriage. She would not watch him take Laila too.” (p. 340)

Mariam’s promise that she would protect Laila and her children was proved when Rasheed tried to kill Laila, not long after Rasheed found out that Laila met Tariq for the second time. She killed Rasheed using a shovel and let Laila and her children go with Tariq to Pakistan. She let herself being jailed and executed by the Taliban.

The moment when Mariam sacrificed herself for Laila’s happiness is the proof of Mariam’s transformation. She could prove that her being rejected and isolated when she was child didn’t become an obstacle for her to grow up into a tough and independent woman. At last, Laila’s and her children’s love that changed Mariam, that made her realize of her precious life.

“… She thought of her entry into this world, the harami child of a lowly villager, an unintended thing, a pitiable, regrettable accident… And yet she was leaving the world as a woman who had loved and been loved back… Mariam thought, that she should die this way…This was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.” (p. 361)

Well, the story is indeed touching, yet inspiring. It shows me different sides of women – delicate, yet very strong. It also shows me that problems are not entirely bad. Somehow, problems make us grow to be a mature person — tranform. They, unconsciously, force us to see the “real” us — our true strength. See, it’s just like Kelly Clarson’s song, what doesn’t kill you make you stronger.

References:
About – message. Khaledhosseinifoundation.org. Retrieved December 19, 2010, from http://www.khaledhosseinifoundation.org/about-message.htm
A Thousand Splendid Suns. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 19, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns
Hosseini, Khaled. 2007. A Thousand Splendid Suns. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.
Khaled Hosseini. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 16, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khaled_Hosseini

The Analysis of Vengeful Creditor: EDUCATION, POWER, AND COLONIALISM


 

Vengeful Creditor is a short story written by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian who has written many short stories and novels such as Things Fall Apart (1958), Marriage Is A Private Affair (1952), No Longer at Ease (1960), and The Sacrificial Egg and Other Stories (1953). Most of his stories contain of social critical happened in his country. This short story, Vengeful Creditor, is a story I read when I was in my fourth semester. It was one of short stories I should read in my prose subject. In this story, Vengeful Creditor, Achebe also shows his critics about social gap in Nigeria.

There are four major characters in the story; Mr. Emenike, Mrs. Emenike, Veronica, and Martha. Mr. and Mrs. Emenike are couple who are well-educated, rich, and have a high position in the society. Mr. Emenike is a man who works as a Permanent Secretary of the nation; while Mrs. Emenike is a Social Welfare Officer.

image
It is told that there are a program called “free primary” — a program that gives free education for those who are in school age. Many people are interested in joining the program including Mr. and Mrs. Emenike’s servants. All of their servants resign from their job because they want to join the “free primary”. Mr. and Mrs. Emenike, then, looking for another servant to take care their youngest child. And this condition leads Veronica who is still ten years old entering Mr. and Mrs. Emenike’s house. She works there as a babysitter.

Martha, Veronica’s mother, is actually hard to let her little daughter go. But considering about her economic condition, she believes that by letting Veronica go, Veronica will have a better life. Furthermore, she is influenced by Mr. Emenike’s words.

“…But my belief is that a child who will be somebody will be somebody whether he goes to school or not. It is all written here, in the palm of the hand.” (Achebe, Vengeful Creditor, par. 77, page 111)

From that statement it can be concluded that Mr. Emenike is not concerning about education, although he, himself, sends his children to school. Martha knows this, she does not hope that Mr. Emenike will send Veronica to school even if he says that. Her only hope is that the Emenikes family will take care of her.

But Veronica does not think in that way. She is very excited when Mr. Emenike said that he would send her to school. She thinks that she will have a chance to go to school (Achebe, Vengeful Creditor, par. 84, page 111). She does the best for the Emenikes.

At the end of the story, Mr. and Mrs. Emenike send Veronica back to her village because Veronica did a mistake to the Emenikes. Veronica’s hope to go to school also gone. This situation makes Martha, Veronica’s mother, disappointed because Mr. and Mrs. Emenike do not treat Veronica as she wished for.

From the summary above we can see that there is a big social gap between the poor and the rich. Furthermore, the setting takes place in a developing country where the numbers of poor people are big. In addition, the country is still affected by the European and American colonialism. Those who are rich and have a high position in the society, like Mr. Emenike and his wife, can do whatever they want. They can have a luxurious house, expensive cars, and high education. While the poor are the opposite. They can’t have a comfortable life, even to be well-educated. For them education is a “craze” — impossible to afford.

In that country, most of the poor work as servants; even if they are children. It is because they do not have good educational background. This condition leads the government to create a program called “free primary” — a program that gives free education for those who are in school age. But many of rich people, including Mr. Emenike and his wife, oppose this policy because it will give disadvantages for them. Their servants, who are mostly in school age, are going to join the program and leave the job. Furthermore, they (the servants) do not want to be paid cheap. They demand to have a higher wage after joining the program.

Those who oppose the policy blame colonialism for this “free primary”. In their opinion, education is a part of colonialism. Poor people who have never known about education become know because of the influence of colonialism. One more thing which makes them hate Western people is that they are richer than the indigenes. They can pay higher wage to the servants so that many of them prefer to work for the Western rather than the indigenes as stated in paragraph 57.

…And she hated the Americans and the embassies (but particularly the Americans) who threw their money around and enticed the few remaining servants away from Africans. This began when she learnt later that her gardener had not gone to school at all but to a Ford Foundation man who had offered him seven pounds, and brought him a bicycle and a Singer sewing machine for his wife (Achebe, Vengeful Creditor, par. 57, page 108).

The government itself actually doesn’t really care about the education. Three months later, after the realization of “free primary”, the program is ended. The true reason is that the “free primary” will increase the taxes. Then from the government point of view it will invite protest from the society. In their opinion, taxes are more important than school fees. Taxes are obligatory, everybody has to pay it whether they want or not. But school fees are different as stated in paragraph 67.

…One simple fact of life which we have come to learn rather painfully and reluctantly — and I’m not so sure even now that we have all learnt it — is that people do riot against taxes but not against school fees…One other point, if a man doesn’t want to pay school fees he doesn’t have to, after all this is a democratic society. The worst can happen is that his child stays at home which he probably doesn’t mind at all. But taxes are different; everybody must pay whether they want to or not (Achebe, Vengeful Creditor, par. 67, page 109).

People who are well-educated usually have a power and high position in the society. Unfortunately, many of them use the power inappropriately — and colonialism is one of its products. They feel that by having the power they can do anything they want; including legalizing slavery. This condition makes the social gap more visible, especially in developing countries where the number of the poor is big. The rich will become richer while the poor will become poorer.

References:
Achebe, C. 1972. Vengeful Creditor.
Chinua Achebe. Wikipedia. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinua_Achebe#Themes
Vengeful creditora — characters. Enotes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from http://www.enotes.com/vengeful-creditor/characters
Vengeful creditorb — introduction. Enotes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from http://www.enotes.com/vengeful-creditor/
Vengeful creditorc — themes. Enotes.com. Retrieved May 26, 2010, from http://www.enotes.com/vengeful-creditor/themes