Title Page | Overview | Documents | Surveys | Exercises
Clips | Profiles | Results | Reflections | References
@2006 Ed Gallagher, Professor of English, Lehigh Lab Fellow. Lehigh University.
Copyright, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy applicable to this site.

"VOLLEYING":
STUDENT WORK (5): FOUR FUZZY STEPS

This example is middlin' -- falling between the ultimately energy-less thread in student work (2) and the pretty much ideal models of student work (3) and student work (4).

Step 1 -- The Serve


Student M: Women are crazy  HAHA, this title ought to get people going.  Anyway, you two remember Marie?  The crazy wife of St Clair in UTC who thought she was God's greatest gift to the world?  I couldn't help but notice how Jacob's was unfortunate enough to come across one of these old birds played by the Dr's wife.  We went over how she took the anger bestowed upon her from a cheating husband and blammed it on the young slave, and how this action was carried out by wispering to Linda in her sleep and such.  This leads me to ask, were a vast majority of women like this in the last century?  Now, I know there were people who were good natured, normal souls back then.  Both novels do reflect on a few.  However, there seems to be a trend emerging that some of these ladies missed the logic train.  Now I know what your thinking, "it wasn't common practice for a girl to complain about the actions of a husband back then," but come on!  Blaming the girl as a defense mechanism, or to let of steam, or whatever is not where common practices for the times should direct a person.  Why yell at the innocent girl?  Marie had no problem voicing her opinion to her spouse.  Is this just the natural reaction to being trapped in this terrible society?  Some can take it, and others go nuts?  If this is the basis, then this does wonders for explaining Edna Pontillier's character.  What do you think?

My reflection on M's serve:

M's serving tone is informal, colloquial, loosey-goosey -- which can be inviting.  But his content?  Hmmm.  A question like "were a vast majority of women like this in the last century?" . . . . I dunno, it just doesn't seem a question that has much relevance to interpreting the text (though I guess it could be made relevant by raising the question of the book's realism).  I dunno, it seems like a short-sighted question, a question by a person of little experience -- for isn't it obvious that this kind of displacement is perennial.  Or is it just me who thinks that way?  But what's so unusual about how the Dr's wife acts?  And I dunno, it doesn't seem to me a question that can be answered in this course, or a question that even has an answer.  Now, as with his chosen tone, M's concluding questions show that he knows what strategies to implement in a serve, so it's not that, but rather that I can't connect with the content.  For instance, the Dr's wife is brought into context with women from two other works at the end.  I appreciate and applaud signs of weaving and synthesizing -- these are hard things to do -- but I don't understand the connections M would like me to make.  Ummm, then, I'm not so sure how effective a serve this is going to be.


Step 2 -- The Return

Student G:  Part of me wants to point out something i said in class the other day.  ABout how Dr. Flint seemed, to me, to be Brainwashing Linda.  Could we not therefore maybe say that the reason why his wife does not blame him, or rather, takes more of her anger out on Linda is that she too has succumbed to his 'mind f*ing" as i think _______ put it the other day too?  But i do think you hit a point that maybe should be explore--but yes, i do agree that this might be the reaction to being trappedin a terrible society; one can not disregard the disregard that women faced in these times.  I used this quote with ________'s post, but I think it works well here too, "But where could I turn for protection?  No matter whether the slave girl be as black as ebony or as fair as her mistress.  In either case, there is no shawdow of law to protedct her from insult, from violoence, or even from death; all these are inflicted by friends who bear the shape of men.  The mistress, who ought to protect the helpless victim,has no toerh feelings towards her but those of jealousy and rage."(pg 30)  Yes-Flint's wife may have been on the bit of the crazy side; but think about it from her perspective (even though it might be hard becuase we live in the times that we do) But here was this YOUNG, SLAVE girl taking part of the woman's husband away from her.  Linda was merely property to Dr. Flints wife- would you feel like you should protect something you see not even as human?  I don't know- to me it seems, for Dr. Flints wife, something of survival of the fittest- i mean, she probably did have some screws lose- but she saw Linda as a threat and she was only acting out of instinct.  But thats merely my take on it.  Do you think that Dr.Flint's wife felt threatned by Linda or was just insanly jealous?

My reflection on G's return:

I'm periodically struck by how good students are at understanding posts that I can't.  G seems to do that here.  I can see from the beginning of G's return that she has boiled out M's essential questions.  Simply stated, what M is trying to do is to understand the Dr's wife.  And G gets on track right away to help him do that.  She posits a reason based in the text, in the story, which is the kind of grounding I thought M was lacking in his serve when he was asking about women in the whole 19th century.  Why does the Dr's wife act the way she does?  Look for the answer within the walls of our text.  Maybe because she's been brainwashed as well as Linda.  Ok.  Good.  I see that.  I accept that.  But, then, I think unfortunately, G heads for the territory of what "women faced in [those] times" that M pointed to.  The long quote, in fact, though, says more about what Linda faced in those times than it does about what the Dr's wife faced.  So it does not seem relevant to the discussion.  What the Dr's wife "faces," according to the quote, is the freedom to be lawless, which is not the kind of constricting cause for her behavior that we've been led to expect.  Then "instinct" is posited as causation.  Then, no doubt realizing that the situation calls for a question to trigger a response, G asks, "Do you think that Dr.Flint's wife felt threatned by Linda or was just insanly jealous?"  I dunno, I'm not sure I see a meaningful difference in the two alternatives and thus the question falls flat for me.


Step 3 -- Fielding the Return

Student M:  I hadn't looked at it like this.  If you take the quote and the concept of jealousy, the two are compatable.  I see Mrs. Flints actions rooted in jealousy and rage.  She doesn't want to feel any sympathy for something she sees standing on the lowest rung of the social ladder.  You also brought up something really interesting.  Is is possible that Dr Flint is not only playing mind games with Linda, but also with his wife?  In my response to _______, I closed talking about how the men might actually be the crazy ones.  (with all the selfish abuse of power it's easy to see why)  Looking this over, you begin to wonder if the Doc is on a power high.  Is he purposely trying to bring out his wife's jealous personality using Linda, or this just a matter of attraction?  We never see Mrs Flint discuss anything that's going on with her husband, but maybe this is what he's actually after.  He wants her jealous because he wants the confrontation (What a creep).  We've discussed in class how he has "mind blank-ing" down to a science with the girl, but is this just something that gives him a feeling of supreme power?  He even subjects Linda's grandmother to it by constantly lying about knowing her grandaughter's wherabouts.  What do you think?

My reflection on M's fielding:

M has a kind of epiphany.  He sees "Mrs. Flints actions rooted in jealousy and rage."  I dunno, this seemed perfectly obvious from the get-go, and I'm not sure that insight rises dramtically from the discussion so far.  Then M abruptly switches focus from the Drs. wife to the Dr.  He goes back to the brainwashing thought that G raised but then dropped in her return, and he develops that, which I give him credit for, but to a conclusion that kind of paralyzes me.  As I read him, he's saying that Dr. Flint consciously stirs his wife's jealousy as part of a plan to achieve a desired "confrontation" between his wife and Linda.  A confrontation he wants to cause them both pain.  That's pretty wild.  It's not sex with Linda he wants, or solely what he wants, but his pleasure or part of his pleasure is from inflicting mental pain on his wife and Linda?!  I'm not sure how to respond to all that.  It doesn't seem to make sense to me.  Is M serious?  Fishing?  Or just going through the motions of keeping a conversation going?  And what will G do?


Step 4 -- The Volley

Student G:  Yea--i didn't really think about what you said until you brought it up.  I can only assume from the way Dr. Flint seems to treat all women in the novel--Linda, her grandmother, even when Dr. Flint at times talks to Ellen--he always seems to try and have the upper hand in conversations by tricking people--especially when Dr. Flint tries to trick the Grandmother and Linda's family into letting him now where Linda is.  I therefore, definetly feel that Dr. Flint uses some kinda of mind tricks on his wife....I do not feel thought that Dr. Flint is trying, at all, to get his wife to be jealous of Linda.  This would seem only seem to backfire in his face--as it actualyl does.  While, you say we do not actually see that Mrs. Flint talks about Dr. Flints relationship with Linda, we hear from the Grandmother otherwise.  Peoplein the neighboorhood begin to talk about the relationship that Dr. Flint is having with Linda becuase of the things that they hear from Mrs. Flint.  Her jealoiusy her worked against him. I feel like a lot of the mind games he plays with people are not only power trips--but intelligence trips. I feel he considers himself to be an intelligent--or rather--smarter than everyone else--kinda man.  I think some of his actions are therefore condesending--as we see that the slaves are not unintelligent like Dr. Flint would like to think.

My reflection on G's volley:

Well, thankfully, G puts M right about Dr. Flint, so I guess maybe I could say that the 4-step process works in this case, though certainly not in a textbook fashion.  M should have learned something.  G shows herself, especially in this last post, as quite conversant with the text and able to bring it to bear on points under discussion.   She asserts that M's position on Flint's motives is not only wrong but against the text.  Good.  And then G heads into another point related to what seems the focus now on Dr. Flint.  She makes an intriguing distinction between power trips and intelligence trips  when describing Flint's mind games, but the transition is abrupt, the development lean, and I am left to make what I can of her distinction.  So, I see some good things here over the four steps -- some movement, some learning, some display of knowledge -- but, especially compared to the last two examples, I find the discussion process here quite fuzzy and basically unsatisfying.