Pivotal Situations

Part1. Choose one of the three pivotal situations below. Write a 250-300 word story (or beginning of a story) that shows one of the following:

– When you first learned that you wouldn’t live forever. This is a question about mortality. Recall an incident as a child where death came to mean what you know it to mean as an adult.
– When you learned about love outside of the realm of family. When did you first fall in love? What happened?
– When you first realized that your parents weren’t infallible, omniscient or omnipotent.

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Although the prompts above use the word “you,” you aren’t required to write directly from your own life. If it feels more comfortable, you may create a fictional character and situation; however, you’ll want to draw from your true experienced emotions.

Remember, too, that your exercise should be written as a story, not an essay. “Show, don’t tell.”

Part1-1. PEER REPLY: Please give critical feedback by analyzing the details they’ve used. Where did the student show? Where did they tell? What details or actions or behaviors that were shown were the most evocative or curious? Why? (50words)

    Peer’s post: Silence was all I heard. I slowly tried to remove my head from the elongated staircase railings as soon as I heard the bottom legs of the metal stool scrape against the floor. The exhaustion of removing my particular small head from the staircase rose in me so I walked to the room and laid down. As usual, I pondered about what this time caused the conversation to end so tensely. It usually doesn’t last me long to think because I knew that the core of that conversation was caused by how they were married at a very young age. However, this time I heard my mother’s footsteps swiftly walking towards my bedroom. I felt an odd turning in my stomach that made me want to bring back up my breakfast. My mother says to me that she and I would be going across the west coast to stay at my cousin’s house for a bit. What was strange about this conversation was that I knew it all along that my parents were getting a divorce, yet my mother didn’t even mention that. Instead, she decided as my father does, to avoid explanations and keeping things simple.

It’s four years later from the time my mother and I spoke about moving across the states. That means three birthdays, three Christmas, three Thanksgiving spent without my father. It’s almost like he decided to go off-grid and in order to avoid awkwardness and tension. I was just excited to move into my dorms in New York City and to rush my sister and mother back home. After our farewells and numerous hugs with one another, I was finally on my own.

Every time I pushed open the massive steel doors and scanned my college badge, I felt my smile gradually stretch. It was just as uncontrollable as when I felt my heart race every time my fashion professors lectured in class. During my lunch breaks, I always went to the park and listened to old classics that my father would have danced to if he was standing right next to me. As usual, my mother called right as it was noon and we discussed how much I loved it here. I told her that I couldn’t stop smiling for some reason and with her broken English accent she said, “ Well it’s because you love what you are doing and you are very passionate about it. You’re lucky because neither your father and I are artistic”. Without any hesitation, I responded,“ Yeah none of you guys are artistic, but you guys never stopped me from trying”. Silence was all I heard. I had a flashback of that day of the argument and all the previous times they have argued and then I noticed something. Every game that they went to of mine they cheered on the sidelines while they still felt the pain and regret from the argument that they had that morning. I realized that although they failed their marriage, they didn’t fail to support the things I was passionate about. The phone crackles and I hear my mother’s voice again. We said our farewells and disconnected from one another.

Part2. Please read and summarize the story in cohesive paragraphs, not with numbers. (400words)
–  In your first paragraph summarize the story based off of the summary evaluation below. What literally happened? How did the character change from beginning to end? What did the protagonist gain or lose by the end of the story? Do your best to analyze the purpose (themes) of the story.
– In your second to third paragraphs write a thesis on *how* Alexie reveals (i.e shows) his main character’s conflict and how Alexie reveals/shows his main character. To do this, you’ll analyze the main character’s conflict. What does he want/not want? How do you know? How does Alexie show us the main character’s conflict in action, dialogue, thoughts? Does the narrator get what he wants?
– Cite *at least* two specific places by using direct quotation that illustrate where and how Alexie shows us the narrator’s conflict. You should only cite small, specific sections from the text (i.e. don’t cite large sections of the story). You might analyze any metaphors or similes used.

Part2-2. Peer Reply instructions: Critically comment on another student’s post. How? agree/disagree/add to another student’s analysis. You’ll need to cite directly from the story to do this. That is, you can’t simply write: “I agree” or “that’s true.” You need to give reasons why. (100words)

        Peer’s post: Sherman’s Alexie’s What You Pawn I Redeem is a heart-tugging story of a homeless Indian man.

The story is told in a detailed hour by hour account of Jackson Jackson, the main character. It begins with the character along with two other, also homeless friends wandering the streets aimlessly. They happened upon a mysterious Pawn Shop that seemed to appear out of nowhere. He spotted his grandmother’s powwow regalia, that was stolen fifty years ago. This sent him on a quest to redeem it.

Jackson begins a quest to redeem his grandmother’s regalia. He felt the desire to earn it back as opposed to reporting it stolen and claiming it for himself in his grandmother’s name. He was terrible at gathering the nine hundred and ninety dollars he needed to do that. Jackson as was depicted by Alexie seemed to be free-spirited and unfettered by life’s daily responsibilities. He wandered the streets aimlessly with his friends or alone. He did’nt seem to have a care in the world other than to gain possession of that regalia. He seemed unconcerned about the fact that he was homeless and showed no desire to rectify that problem. He wandered where he will and lived only in the moment.

Every time Jackson lucked upon any kind of aid that would help his quest, he would throw it away. Newspaper man tried to help him by giving him newspapers to sell, “I sold five in one hour, dumped the other forty-five in a garbage can, and walked into McDonald’s, ordered four cheeseburgers for a dollar each, and slowly ate them.” Then there was Officer Williams who gave him twenty-five dollars after hearing his story of his grandmother’s regalia. Jackson spent it on breakfast for himself and his three companion brothers, as he told the waitress, “I’ve got twenty-five dollars I can spend. Bring us all the breakfast you can, plus your tip.”

Although, in the end Jackson was able to reclaim his grandmother’s regalia. I think it would be safe to say that he was a man without any real sense of purpose, or cares, or the desire to seek a change in his homeless state. He was a drifter, a wanderer who moved whichever way the wind of life blew him. But he did have a sense of family and his heritage. For more information on Pivotal Situations see this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pivotal

Pivotal Situations

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