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THE "SERVE":
STUDENT WORK (2): REPRESENTATIVE FIRST SERVES

I look in detail here below at some of the student work in unit 1 under the forum title of "First Contact" on the very first day of discussion board posting, which was in the second week of class.  I had introduced my approach to the discussion board during the first week.  In particular, I introduced the "five eyes" and a plan of gradually expanding posts from a serve without responses in the first unit to a volley of four or five interchanges in the last unit.  On this very first day, then -- indeed, as in the other two days in the first unit -- the students were to "serve" and to read the posts of others but not to "return" any (see the actual prompt below).  The idea was to isolate the "serve" for study.  

I thought that what I would be focusing on here in my course reflections would be the student use of the five eyes to facilitate a variety of content on the board within the class or a specific group.  I wanted students to exercise five different thinking skills and, in doing so, to be conscious of ways to increase the range of ways "to keep the conversation going."  The five eyes was my baby, my innovation, my pet tool.  I was anxious to see how it would work.

But I had a surprise.  While reviewing the survey results and the actual student work (click here to see my comments on survey 2, question 12), I realized that I had missed a pretty big and pretty important notion.  I was preparing students to be conscious of what to write in a serve but not how to serve.  I was not covering the whole territory.

I gradually came to realize that, as I described them on the handout and as I presented them in class, the aim of the five eyes could just as well be to produce a mini-essay -- that is, a single paragraph, unrelated to a discussion.  (In fact, I have subsequently used them that way in courses run in a different manner.)  I gradually came to realize that the ultimate aim of the serve, for instance, is more than just to introduce a train or a path of thought but also to seed a four- or five-step interchange.  The serve must not be simply a product, but it must trigger a process.  There's a way of doing a serve as well as a what to put in a serve.  And students need to be conscious of both.

My own realizations were triggered by seeing students in the surveys use standard essay criteria to judge the best serves (again, see survey 2.12).  They were applying the same evaluative principles to essay writing as they did to discussion board writing, even though the goals of each form of writing are quite different.  That got me thinking.

And then while my colleague Stephen Tompkins and I were reviewing survey comments, we noticed one student reflect that he needed to write more socially.  Bang!  That phrase brought things into focus.  My mantra is that "the art of writing on the discussion board is to keep the conversation going."  What students need to practice as well as the five eyes is "writing conversationally" or "writing socially."  And "serving socially" might seem the best way to seed a four- or five-step interchange.

I came to see that I would need to emphasize that the goal of the five eyes was to be achieved later not sooner, at the end of discussion, and in concert with others.  The server especially, then, faces the task of resisting the long and deeply ingrained habit that seems most "natural" to a student -- giving "the" answer right away.  The server, especially, must defer closure.  This behavior was "natural" to me, a teacher long experienced in leading discussions, but I had not thought to make it explicit to the students.

I came to see that I would prefer that the attitude of the server be less here's-what-I-think now tell me what-you-think-about-what-I-think than here's-what-we-together-should-think-about.

Here below, then, are a selection of thirteen representative posts from that very first day, followed by my comments primarily aimed at the notion of "serving socially."  As a result of the thinking generated by this exercise, I put together another tentative handout entitled "Serving Socially" that I am thinking would be added to my course introduction or, if that is too loaded, at least at an early part of the course.


The Discussion Board Prompt:


First Contact (8/29)

I've asked you to try to finish The Awakening for Friday and to post here a first response.  You can use one of the sections in the "Five Eyes" document under Course Documents to help you focus a response or you can respond in whatever other way seems appropriate to you.  At this point in the course there are no other specific instructions regarding kind or length of posts as there might be later on.  Please read but DO NOT respond to the posts of others.  Note: please DO NOT respond to the posts of others.


1)  First to post?  (Student Q)

I thihnk that the author, Kate Chopin, wrote this book for herself to get her life story off of her chest.  You can definitely tell that the main character s her written self.  Chopin was of French decent and so was the books main character.  Kate also had five kids, and may have felt like they ket her caged up.  We see in the novel many times how Edna is unhappy with her current situation.  Right in the begininning of the story she is crying over her marriage, and admits that she got into the marriage because she like how it was forbidden because of religion.  When robert leaves, it puts a damper on her even though she still has her husband.  She does not in fact get upset at all when her husband leaves, even though he seems to be caring.  I don't really understand the motives too well of Edna however.  I don't know why she would really want to leave her husband.  he seemed good enough to her.  Edna is just rebelling against herself and her position.  She know Mr. Pontellier is a good husband.
  • not scintillating, no great idea here, pretty pedestrian actually 
  • and poor spelling and editing, but, of course, I said that was ok in the guidelines
  • he leads up to a problem: " I don't really understand the motives too well of Edna however.  I don't know why she would really want to leave her husband"
  • that's good, an implied question: why did Edna leave her husband?
  • and that actually is good for a serve, it opens a door
  • an open door may just be more important than good editing, etc.
  • for there is an implied invitation to respond here
  • and, in fact, this post did trigger two responses, even though I specifically indicated that I didn't want them to respond
  • for instance, the opening sentence in the very next post -- "Motives" -- is: "I feel that Edna's motives for wanting to leave her husband have nothing to do with him in particular and everything to do with societial expectations"
  • in a way there's not much to this post, but in fact it functions effectively as a serve
  • but what would I tell this student to help improve the overall quality of the post?
  • perhaps to look at Mr. something-borrowed's post for a model

2)  Motives  (Student S)

I feel that Edna's motives for wanting to leave her husband have nothing to do with him in particular and everything to do with societial expectations.  In 1899 (date of publication) it was expect that women of wealth, would aspire to nothing more than to be a faithful wife, a good mother and present a perfect face to society.  The value of this is evidient by Mr. Pontellier desire to "save face" by having the family home re modeled when Edna elects to leave him.  The emphasis is no longer on what is hapening inside the marriage but rather what people from the outside precieve to be happening.  It is these factors that I feel forced Edna to rebel.  Added to it is her mention of nothing being her's, the money is all her husbands as well as the home.  She has been painting and earning a small living for herself, something unheard of in that time for a woman of her standing.
  • as indicated above, she picks up immediately on the previous post
  • there's a clear transition from the previous post
  • she gives a reasonably developed answer to Mr. First-to-post's problem and question
  • but is something more needed?
  • Miss Motive answers definitively, in effect with a "period" -- like, here's your answer, end of discussion
  • there is no explicit or even implied invitation here for Mr. First-to-post to respond
  • no response is envisioned
  • could there be something here to keep the conversation going?

3)  Ignorance is Bliss  (Student L)

I found Chopin’s novel to be extremely timeless as it chronicles a woman’s path toward self-knowledge and empowerment.  In my opinion, were it not for subtle reminders of the time period (i.e the style of dress), one might easily mistake it for a contemporary novel.  I particularly enjoyed Chopin’s use of the metaphor of the ocean and water as it relates to Edna’s own internal struggles.  The novel is marked by frequent references to water and ocean imagery.  The vivid and powerful way in which the ocean is described is effective as it metaphorically represents the myriad of emotions that frequently overtake Edna throughout the course of her “awakening”.  Edna’s emotions are often described as wave-like, implying that Edna is somewhat at the mercy of some external force; that she is propelled on (as one may be propelled by powerful waves).  For example, Edna experiences a powerful emotional jolt while listening to Mademoiselle Reisz’s playing: “the very passions themselves were aroused within her soul, swaying it, lashing it, as the waves daily beat upon her splendid body” (72).  Even as she becomes progressively more empowered and self-aware, she maintains a certain sense of vulnerability.  Shortly after the somewhat amusing scene in which she refuses to bend to her husband’s wishes and spends an entire night in a hammock outdoors, she describes herself as “blindly following whatever impulse moved her, as if she had placed herself in alien hands for direction, and freed her soul of responsibility” (79). There is no question however, that Edna is becoming an independent and self-empowered woman.  Her decisions to develop her artistic talents as well as move out of her home, as well as her relationships with Arobin and Lebrun serve as evidence of her evolution.  The tragedy lies in Edna’s final realization that even complete independence and the pursuit of one’s passions may not be enough as a result of the restrictions that life ultimately places upon us. Edna comes to realize that her early assertion, “I would give up the unessential; […] I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself” (97), is unrealistic.  At the novel’s conclusion Edna realizes that the “acute longing” (145) that plagues her throughout the novel may never be satisfied in her current life role as a mother.  She envisions her own children as her enslavers, “antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered her and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days” (175).  Tragically she surrenders herself to the eternal solitude of the ocean which has consistently symbolized peace, refuge, power and perspective.  The novel concludes with a repetition of the opening description of the sea: “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude” (175).  Ultimately Edna surrenders herself to eternal solitude as her awakening has led her to the realization that all of her earthly relationships will eventually “melt out of her existence, leaving her alone” (175).  Certainly the Doctor may empathize with Edna as he states, “Nature takes no account of moral consequences, of arbitary conditions which we create, and which we feel obliged to maintain at any cost” (171).  I loved the novel’s powerful conclusion.  It did however call to mind the question: Is ignorance bliss?
  • compare this to Mr. First-to-post's
  • there's a completely different approach
  • Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss conceives of her post as an essay not a serve
  • it's every bit of 550 words, not the 150-250 suggested in the guideline
  • and it's an excellent essay, no question, like Miss Soaring-above-tradition's too
  • there's a clear thesis, tight structure, generalizations backed by examples
  • there are exact quotes, page citations, and highly polished sentences
  • this was obviously written outside the discussion board space
  • this is not the spontaneous chasing of an idea described in the guidelines but a well planned and thought out, no doubt revised, and surely highly polished piece
  • now my first impulse was to value this post over Mr. First-to-post's
  • this writer is highly talented, this post evidently skillful
  • but I had to remind myself that this was a serve on a discussion board not an essay
  • and that therefore perhaps it was a total failure in that respect
  • I'm not even sure how I would or could respond to this post to continue a conversation
  • she does pose a question in the very last sentence, but it seems like an after-thought, a trailer
  • the predominant impression I have is that she has constructed a closed system
  • I don't feel a way "in"
  • I feel that the response she expects is that I will simply say, "yeah"
  • in racquetball or tennis terminology, I feel she has served an "ace"
  • I feel humbled, dominated by her comprehensive and superior work
  • Now, what to say to her in the way of improvement as a discussion board post
  • perhaps that she should start the post with that final question
  • better, maybe, perhaps pose to us one of the questions that her "essay" seems to answer 
  • for instance, "what metaphor in the novel helps us to understand Edna?"
  • in other words, ask the group the very question she asked herself to which the essay is the answer
  • then instead of the positive, declarative, conclusive tone in the "essay," troll for information: put a line in the water and see what hits
  • something like, here's what I think may be the answer (with a suggestive example), but let's think this through together -- what do you see?
  • and has to be much shorter
  • would that work to help her mold the good stuff here into db shape?

4)  something borrowed something new  (Student J)

I would now like to discuss the significance of Edna's children throughout the novel.  I was wondering if anyone else noticed that the children played a minimal role in the storyline of the novel.  Yet, they dominated Edna's thoughts before she killed herself as evidenced on page 175 in which, "The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul's slavery for the rest of her days,".  Even now as she is about to leave her children forever, Edna still sees them as a constant reminder of a life of self-imprisonment.  We now see why the children were absent from Edna's daily life during the majority of the story.  The new and improved Edna could not stand the constant reminder of a life she so desparately longed to be apart from.  Although she made so many changes in herself, she was still unable to escape the bonds of marriage and motherhood.  The problem that I have with this is that, throughout the novel, Edna spoke of her children in loving affection.  So if she hated them for caging her, why love them at all?  Also, why did Mrs. Ratignolle tell Edna to think of the children?  Did Ratignolle expect Edna's self-inflicted demise?  Hopefully someone else knows because I'm really not sure.
  • I think this is an excellent serve
  • he announces his topic clearly immediately
  • and then in the second sentence already reaches out to the class with a low-key "I was wondering"
  • his specific problem is clearly and succinctly stated in the fifth-last sentence and followed by a series of concrete questions
  • in-between, the body of the post grounds his topic in the text with one specific example and then develops it in depth a few steps
  • there is a more serious, genuine, and effective set-up than there is in Mr. First-to-post's serve
  • his problem and questions are not tossed off cavalierly, but he carefully paves the way for them
  • he helps us understand where he is coming from and focuses our attention -- giving us specific questions we can answer if we choose to
  • I think there is excellent audience awareness here from beginning to end
  • in the last sentence he admits perplexity and vulnerability and asks for help
  • his approach here feels something like I am sincerely trying to understand this novel but I am having trouble with a key aspect of the central character -- here's my problem, can you help?

5)  The Struggles of Change  (Student D)

Though I this story to be about self-realization and self-empowerment, the book also illustrate struggles that go along with growth and change.  Though at times Edna can seem selfish, she is only beginning to think and think for herself.  Her newly found freedom to think also allows her realize the lack of love and personal attachment in her family life.  When she was young her aspirations to marry those she felt love for fell through only to settle for Leonce.  Again in her life, emotional interests stir up her life.  Though she does not immediately react to them in a physical or sexual manner she gets involved emotionally.  An important realization that comes with her emotional turmoil is that fact that she does not want to be anybody's possession or property.  For this period of time this thought was too radical to be understood by most people.  Edna must essentially adjust to a whole new life if she wants to be free from things that tie her down.
  • he is building on posts of others that he implicitly refers to in the opening clause, adding his own "also"
  • way shorter than Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss's but has that same essay feel
  • it's self-contained, self-enclosed
  • it's offered declaratively as a straightforward statement of fact
  • there's closure at the end; the post ends with a "period"
  • there's no invitation, nor any particular opening for others to respond
  • what to say to this student to help him improve?
  • how about trying something like this: "As ________ and ________ said, this book is about self-realization and self-empowerment, and I'd like us to think about the struggles that Edna goes through.  She must essentially adjust to a whole new life if she wants to be free.  For instance, _____[cite an example]_______.  Is there more that we can say about this?  And what are the other struggles that she undergoes?"
  • in other words, could this student think about re-formulating his topic so that it reaches out to others?
  • maybe that means holding back some points and letting others search for them and bring them out

6)  Soaring above tradition  (Student O)

One line from The Awakening really makes an impact and is one that I think really tells the truth behind the novel.  Edna repeats what Mademoiselle Reisz said to her when she left, and what she said was that “the bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings.  It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised, exhausted, fluttering back to earth” (138).  Edna is that bird soaring above tradition and prejudice only to come back down to earth in the end.  The novel portrays her transition and struggle from living a mindless life as a wife and mother to living her life independently, sensuously, and soulfully.  Society expects her to be one way, but she desires to be different.  Still, I think that even referring to the new house that she moves into as the “pigeon house,” besides commenting on its size, is saying that Edna is like a caged bird who’s let out to fly but is still not completely free.  Edna cannot have the life that she desires due to the restrictions of society.  In the end of the novel, as Edna walks down to the beach, “a bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water” (175).  This, too, represents Edna.  She had her hopes and dreams destroyed and the fantasy of the future that she imagined was brought crashing back to reality.  Edna’s courage and her spirit were broken and she was not strong enough to continue.  In the end, Edna Pontellier chooses actual death over living what she would consider a dead existence.
  • like Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss, this student writes a virtually flawless "essay"
  • this is excellent writing -- clear, compact, and comprehensive
  • however, her post does not have the feel of being meant for discussion
  • we see the exact quotes, the page citations, the polished sentences
  • and we do not especially see any indication of audience
  • whom is she talking to?
  • so what to say to this very good student about improving her db writing?
  • how get this student thinking of "serving" on a discussion board rather than "producing" an essay?
  • perhaps the suggestion is the same as for Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss
  • can she make explicit the implicit question she is answering here? 
  • for instance, could she open by asking, "Is there one line from the novel that seems to capture the truth behind it?"
  • or, could she suggest that the bird image is central to the novel, give a specific example, and ask others to contribute more?
  • in other words, could she hold back what she knows a bit, restrain herself from unloading all her knowledge at once?
  • and thus invite collaboration!

7)  What if . . . I were Edna?  (Student C)

As I began to read this story I had this feeling that I would never finish reading it in any reasonable amount of time.  I wasn't able to relate to this so overpowered and closed person.  That's just not how things are in this day and age.  Though about halfway through I found myself picking up the pace and being able to picture myself in the exact position Edna had found herself in.  By the time I was finished I couldn't help but think about what I would do in her position.  I've always pictured myself as being a housewife, but on the otherhand have always taken for granted my freedoms to choose what I wanted to do.  I felt like Edna should be able to get herself out of the situation or find some type of solution to her dilemma.  However, one has to remember that it wasn't the 21st century and people were expected to be loyal to their loved ones.  However,on the otherhand by commiting suicide she was almost betraying everyone---she had Robert, her children, and even her husband that she should have confronted(even if the outcome would have been terrible).  It's just not reasonable to escape in such a way.  I think if she really experienced this "awakening" she should have been able to realize leaving the situation was not a real answer either.  I know we have all been in a similar situation--and personally I could never just ignore what was going on around me--let alone escape with no return.  She didn't continue to fufill her longing to be "awake"---so in a sense she never really was me awake.  She didn't experience everything or wait to see the outcome of her somewhat childish decisions.
  • not an academic voice but a real voice, personal voice: "I . . . I . . . I"
  • we see this also in Mr. Awakening, Miss Sacrifice, and Mr. Just-thoughts
  • she creates a little drama in the beginning, which is kind of engaging
  • her structure is interesting and engaging too -- she is aware of herself while reading and shows her changing thought process
  • there's good, solid writing here, and she has a sense of audience 
  • but she could have done more to stimulate responses from her audience
  • this is a "what if" situation, so what if she turned that explicitly toward the audience?
  • suppose she played directly off the title and asked, "What if you were Edna?"
  • she says: "I couldn't help but think about what I would do in her position."  Ok, ask others to do the same
  • here's how I felt about Edna, now what would you do in her position?
  • there is the intriguing crook of the finger beckoning to the audience in "I know we have all been in a similar situation"
  • I hear an invitation there
  • how about giving that climactic emphasis?
  • would that revision to this already good post make this function better as a "serve"?

8)  The Awakening! ugh  (Student B)

I approached The Awakening with the understanding that it is widely recognized as a piece of essential American literature, and so I tried quite hard to extract a deeper moral from the relatively simplistic plot.
While I feel quite safe in assuming that by the end of tomorrow's lecture I'll understand how Edna can be seen as a courageous, independent, and rebellious young lady, right now ... I have to say that that woman flat out infuriated me.  I didnt see courage, I saw grotesque immaturity and obscenely self serving qualities of a weak woman, not a strong one.  Her suicide, clearly the climax of the novel, is appalling.  Granted, her society not only accepted but cherished these terribly parochial views of male dominance and family over all else, but Chopin doesn't JUST show evidence of that.  She also CLEARLY illustrates Edna's constant manipulation of the men in her life, her emotionally labile nature and her resentment of family.  Sure, Edna, go be your own person, fall out of love with your husband, but to have ABSOLUTELY no matriarchal instinct (no feeling of responsibility to children), and to become obsessed with fantasies involving a young man who knows better than to deliberately break up a marriage?  No, I definitely do not see many attributes in her worth complimenting - in fact, Edna came across to me as a mentally ill, twisted woman.  If Chopin was trying to make a pro feminist statement for her generation, I feel she did a poor job of it. Edna doesnt come off as brave or self sufficient.  She comes off as just plain nuts.
  • intriguing strategy: indicates that he knows how he should view the central character but that right now he doesn't view her that way, not by a long shot
  • indicates he knows what the party line is, perhaps the one that he would be expected (forced) to hold if we were in a situation in which his grade was determined on exams and quizzes, etc.
  • does here on the discussion board what is hard to do in traditional testing situations and even, to an extent, in class discussion
  • in-your-face, challenging tone -- in fact, challenges me
  • not an academic voice, but one of raw personal reaction
  • he drops the gauntlet to the audience
  • this post is a blast, a bash
  • it's written in an emotional stream of consciousness rather than polished rationalism like Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss and Miss Soaring-above-tradition
  • this one certainly stands out style-wise; there are no other serves quite like it
  • now, is this effective in starting a conversation?
  • should this be in a gallery of model serves?
  • or is there a risk here of being considered an off-the-wall crank and ignored?
  • will he come off "as just plain nuts," the way he sees Edna?
  • I almost want to say that we should hope for some voices like this to shatter complacency, to shake people up, to show the variety of approaches, to show the discussion board is a place for real voices, to show that the discussion board is truly student space
  • but I guess a student would not want to serve this way all the time 
  • nor do I think that a group would want too many such voices

9)  Sacrifice  (Student V)

I found The Awakening to be quite moving as it illustrates the common, however more seldomly expressed feeling of sacrifice experienced by women of that time period.  According to the century's scoially acceptable values, Edna is to be a submissive, loving wife to her husband, a mother to her children, and a woman with a personality that is not her own, but one that is contructed via the pre-conceived notions of that social era.  Being under such restriction, one can't help but understand why this woman would feel such a rebellious fire, one strong enough to cause her to act upon it, and feel awakened, like from an uncontrollable dream you can't seem to awken from, or one that is reocurring.  My first impression, however, of the novel's conclusion, was that it was cowardly of her to give up her fight toward breaking out of her sociallty molded shell by committing suicide, especially considering that she had children to consider.  But then, as I had more time to think about the novel for a while, in a way I understood why her death rather than her life was more compelling.  Everything Edna did was contrary to what she was made to believe was proper.  One important example is the fact that she married a Creole when she was Catholic.  I found this important because Chopin points out that the Creole "does not take any chances which may be avoided of imperiling her health", meaning that suicide is not an option in accordance with their beliefs.  If the novel in one way is to illustrate her movement towards self empowerment, Edna's commiting suicide was just another way of showing that she would not give herself up to their social values.  I further understood this idea by remembering Edna's declaration that would give up the unessentials, even her life for her children, but she would not give up herself.  If she chose to live and remain with her husband and children and thus go back to living the way she did before her "awakening", wouldn't she be, in a sense, giving up herself?  Maybe in Edna's case, once she finally started to find and express her true self, there was no turning back, as that would be, in a sense, death, as well.
  • a very thoughtful, well written post
  • the student is aware of and chronicles her thought process as she comes to a final, important conclusion about the novel and the central character
  • but the post (like several before now) is more essay than serve
  • the post is basically about "me," about "my" changing views -- and it is not clear that such an approach will stimulate discussion
  • see the "I" dominating in Miss What-If's post as well
  • well, perhaps this won't stimulate discussion unless you say something like that was my history of response to the novel, now what is yours?
  • there is a question toward the end: "If she chose to live and remain with her husband and children and thus go back to living the way she did before her 'awakening', wouldn't she be, in a sense, giving up herself?" 
  • but somehow that seems a question to herself as much as to readers, and thus I'm not sure it functions strongly in engaging response, even if it were given climactic emphasis
  • the challenge here would be to get this thoughtful, skilled student to reframe the delivery in her posts without losing the good points here

10)  Just thoughts  (Student K)

One of the aspects of this novel that stood out most to me was its style.  I really liked the matter-of-fact, story-telling style that Chopin illustrated in this book.  Her diction never seemed too complex or haughty, as I feel most literature around this period does.  Furthermore, Chopin was very to the point in her descriptions and dialogue; in some ways it reminded me of Hemingway.  Yet, her third person omniscent narrator remains articulate and aware of all the emotions and interactions taking place.  I simply enjoyed the notion that the author was speaking directly to the reader as if he were in the room with her when she originally crafted the novel.  Furthermore, I was quite intrigued by Edna's transformation throughout the text, and then her final good-bye at the end.  The way that the author left the moral standing of Ms. Pontellier up to the reader was quite interesting.  So, as a witness of Edna's "awakening," I feel it is my responsibility to contribute my opinion of her discovery.  I actually felt a bit malicious towardsher actions because they seemed somewhat selfish, especially with her dramatic exit.  She does not account at all for her responsibilities towards her husband and children, nor does she claim any valid reasoning for her complete abandon for her place in society.  Certainly her days at the Grand Isle laid the foundation for her discovery of the joys of independence and self-appreciation, but I didn't agree with her complete withdrawl from all her prior responsibilities.
  • hmmm, this post is well written but -- frankly -- on the dull side
  • it seems to be "me" oriented like Miss Sacrifice's and Miss What-If's
  • here is a checklist of some things I feel about the novel
  • there really aren't even specific examples from the novel
  • so this post seems too "writer-based" to be an especially effective serve
  • it needs more conviction, there is a kind of ho-hum quality about the post
  • it's just thoughts, nothing more
  • it needs a sense of some issues involved
  • or why feeling one way or another about these points matters
  • I'm not sure that, as is, this personal litany would "serve" to give others something to feed on

11)  awakening  (Student A)

The Awakening seems to be a book of protest which made it a controversial work for it's time.  Edna seems to want to escape to a place where she can do as she pleases.  She signed over her life to a husband and children before she knew what she "really" wanted with her life.  After being woke, she seemed to realize all of the things she missed out on.  She was mad that she never did anything for herself and spent her life dreaming.  I believe she thought that it was too late to fix anything and was permanently stuck in a hole that she couldn't climb out of.  Hence the ending.
  • not a good serve
  • short, summaryish, perfunctory
  • almost arrogantly abrupt at the end
  • obvious material, no examples, no expansion
  • not much here in the way of content nor in engaging a discussion
  • not sure there is anything to do with this student except kick him in the pants

12)  Leonce's failure to eliminate the "community gigolo" is unfortunate  (Student U)

I want to focus on the significance of Leonce Pontellier’s attitude as a husband, and how it affects Edna’s pursuit of liberation.  With the severe amount of attention he pays to his public appearance and the concern he addresses to social hierarchy, Leonce cannot fully acquaint himself with the needs of Edna, his wife.  Edna wishes to find solace and to act independently, despite the fact that she is expected to devote her life to her children and her husband.  Leonce is so out of touch with his wife and her feelings that he must see his family physician for answers to transform his fluttering relationship with his wife.  Away on business trips, Edna involves Robert Lebrum in her search for freedom, and makes him a focal point in the process that will awake her, instead of engaging Leonce.  Just the presence of an outsider should of motivated Leonce to act decisively and eliminate the disconnection existing in his relationship with his wife.  Robert has a history of being the community gigolo.  Why not take notice and make a legitimate effort to right his wife and rid his marriage of this paramour?  Unfortunately, Leonce fails to intercede directly, and because of his inability to conform and nurture his wife’s quest for emancipation, Edna gives her love up to Robert.
  • this student knows the principles of good (essay) writing
  • he announces his topic immediately, develops it solidly, focuses on a key part, and gives a clear opinion about it
  • but is this "served" in the best possible way to spur discussion?
  • seems to me not
  • seems to me that it ends with that definitive "period" that tends to close off conversation, which we have seen before (Mr. Struggles)
  • like several others here (for instance, Miss Ignorance-is-Bliss), I think my advice would be to open up to the audience by articulating the now invisible premise behind this pararaph
  • how about an opening that, in effect, says something like "Let's explore the significance of _________."
  • or, in effect, begin with something like Leonce plays an important role in Edna's pursuit of liberation.  For example, ______.  Would you agree?  Are there other examples you can add? 

13)  Misery v Happiness  (Student F)

I feel that Edna was a brave soul who did what was best for her to do at the time.  I believe she was an independent woman who allowed her mind to think freely; unlike many thinkers male and or female of the time.  She was mature beyond her time and was seeking freedom and happiness.  I think that everyone has a right to happiness, and I don't feel that she abandoned her husband, children and community for selfish purposes.  She needed to live her life rather than die in a life that was a lie.  I thought it was a powerful novel, containing much symbolism and contreversy.
  • this is really too lean to be effective
  • an example of a poor post like Mr. awakening's
  • this student saw no need to expand at all on very complicated and layered situations
  • nor to reach out to the audience
  • I would think this would be a very hard serve to reply to
  • but of interest is the writer-based "me" approach we have seen before: Miss Sacrifice, Mr. Just-thoughts, and Miss What-If
  • "I feel . . . . I believe . . . . I think . . . . I don't feel . . . . I thought"
  • it's like she's ticking off her votes on a ballot
  • in one sense, maybe this is a good serve tactic, since it gives a responder something very specific to bounce off
  • but, on the other hand, I worry that such posts seem to ignore the conversational situation and that some "reader-based" touches are needed
  • like, I'm not sure I would be motivated to respond here unless I were absolutely required to do so
  • feels to me like this student is going through the motions, and that's all I would be stimulated to do in response
  • but I do see in her line about abandoning a spot where I could suggest the conversational approach
  • Miss Misery is answering an implied question here that is central to the novel, so I might ask her to pose that question to others to stimulate response, even if she gives her definite answer: "Do you think Edna abandoned her family?"