Private: 2.9 Reading Response Number 6

Sam Teal

Text Title: American Sniper

Author: Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, Jim Felice

Text Type: Autobiography

Date Finished: 31st of August


“I look through the scope, get my target in the crosshairs, and kill my enemy, before he kills one of my people.”

American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History is the dramatic Autobiography of Navy Seal Chris Kyle who was active between 1999-2009, and has over 150 confirmed kills, coming from four tours of Iraq. The autobiography is narrated by Kyle who talks about his training, deployments, family, internal battles, his daily life and operations in war-torn Iraq. Kyle is an interesting character who is extremely patriotic and states his main priorities in order early in the book; “God, Country, Family”. These three values are prominent in the book but also how he views them when they oppose each other in some instances. Prior to reading the book I had watched American Sniper the movie that was “loosely based” on the book, so I had some idea about the content that the book would contain, but after reading the book I found that the book went much further into the hardships Kyle faced whereas the movie focused more on the action that he experienced.

I would recommend this text because I found myself always wanting to read more every time I put the book down. I do enjoy reading books, but I usually find it hard to pick one up and get into it straight away; it was quite the opposite with this book as I was already excited for it because of the movie, but after the first chapter I was hooked. The book is a gritty, hard-hitting, and an eye-opener to what the war in Iraq was like for those involved. The type of person that I would recommend this text to at school would be Year 11 – 13s as they are older and would understand the messages and themes that the text is conveying. Although this book would be suitable for everyone, I feel that stereotypically boys would find it more interesting than girls due to the themes of war, guns, and fighting.

The text taught me that without people like Chris Kyle, the world would be a much more dangerous place. From the stories he tells in the book, without him and other military personnel posted in the Middle East, the radical ideologies that were spread throughout Iraq had the possibility of affecting the world in a much more dramatic way than it did; the reason that it didn’t was because of the courageous efforts by different countries militaries. When describing who was fighting in Iraq, Kyle termed them as “Savage, despicable evil. That’s what we were fighting in Iraq.” From what the reader learns in the book, added to what we know from media sources you start to get a picture of how important the military is when trying to contain these radical insurgents. After reading the book some might say that Kyle is far from a hero and should be condemned for his actions in Iraq; these people will use his own words against him especially when he is talking about his kills, “But in that back room or whatever it is when God confronts me with my sins, I do not believe any of the kills I had during the war will be among them. Everyone I shot was evil. I had good cause on every shot. They all deserved to die.” I disagree with these people as without his overwatch from the top of buildings, there would be a hell of a lot more innocent people dead than his 150 confirmed kills. To sum up, my respect for people in the military has increased since reading this book as without their fearless acts I don’t know how safe I would feel.

Although I can not relate to Chris Kyle on a personal level as I have no military experience, I am not as patriotic as him, I am not religious, and nor am I a father. I do share similar viewpoints as him though; one of these is that people who don’t respect what the military is doing overseas is morally wrong. Like Kyle, I have a huge amount of respect for the various armed forces personnel serving overseas as personally, I don’t think that I would be able to go through the amount of training and activities that they do physically, but also mentally. To be deployed in a war zone must take a ton of mental strength which I think a slim percentage of the population actually posses. This is why I find it hard when people in the media slate any military that is fighting for the greater good, as I highly doubt that the newscaster could do they what the troops are going through. Kyle has the same viewpoint as me, as in an outtake from Taya’s snippet in chapter 5 Kyle expresses his anger when he sees someone on the television dissing the troops, “You know what? If that’s what they think, fuck them. I’m out here ready to give my life and they’re doing bullshit.” Although I don’t feel the same level of anger as Kyle, we share the same general viewpoint; this and other ways of thinking that are the same as Kyle is how I can connect to the book on a personal level with the text.      

American Sniper sparks a discussion politically and socially about the military and what goes on in these Middles Eastern conflicts. I felt that American Sniper was a thought provoking book that gave the general public an insight into raw accounts of what went down in Iraq during 2003 – 2011, but after reading reviews and discussions on the book I have found that people hlabelledeled Kyle the complete opposite of a hero, and have called the book racist and that it glorifies the war. Most of these critics have come from the left and hold pacifistic beliefs that completely and utterly disagree with Kyle’s. This then sparks a political conversation around the book as the late John McCain who was a Republican senator defended the book by saying “Regrettable that critics of US foreign policy would denigrate the memory of a noble American warrior,” whereas people of the public who hold more pacifistic beliefs find it hard to support Kyle when in the book he says things like “I only wish I had killed more” and “I loved what I did…it was fun. I had the time of my life.” My personal viewpoint on Kyle’s legacy was that he was a hero and protected his country with every inch of his body; his patriotism is inspiring and his work ethic in trying to protect his fellow servicemen is admirable. One line in the book really shows how much of a hero Kyle was when deployed, “My regrets are about the people I couldn’t save – Marines, soldiers, my buddies. I still feel their loss. I still ache for my failure to protect them.” Politically in New Zealand, there is an issue regarding the military as naive politicians and sectors of the public feel entitled to know where our special forces are operating. I completely oppose this as this is a security risk to them.    

To conclude, after reading American Sniper I feel like I learned a lot more about the conditions and challenges that faced troops in the Iraq War. I found that with every page I read, I became more and more engrossed in Kyle’s world; my interest in the book caused me to do further research on the Iraq War as I wanted to find out more so I understood the book better. Although American Sniper taught me a lot it is also important to realise that is one man’s perspective and that it doesn’t accurately represent all of the soldier’s experiences in Iraq.

2.9 Reading Response Number 5

Sam Teal

Text Title: Creed

Director: Ryan Coogler

Text Type: Movie

Date Finished:


“One step. One punch. One round at a time”

Creed is a 2015 Sports Drama film directed by Ryan Coogler; it is a spin-off but also a sequel in the Rocky Film Series making it the seventh film in the franchise. The plot is simple as it follows a young boy’s journey from being in a youth prison in 1998, to fighting “Pretty” Ricky Conlan 17 years later in Liverpool for the WBC Light-Heavyweight title. The movie starts off in a California youth detention centre in 1998 where there is a fight between two boys, one of them is named Adonis Johnson. Later a lady named Mary Anne Creed visits Adonis and asks him to come and live with him as she was his father’s wife. fast forward 17 years and Adonis has quit his job at Smith Boardley Financial Group to try and fulfil his dream of becoming a professional boxer. After not getting the break he wanted at the Delphi Boxing Academy in Los Angeles, Adonis travels to Philadelphia to try and find his fathers biggest rival; Rocky Balboa. Once Adonis meets Rocky he reveals that he is the illegitimate son of famous boxer Apollo Creed, who was once Rocky’s biggest opponent turned best friend. The movie for a large part focuses on Adonis’s and Rocky’s developing relationship as Rocky trains Adonis for his fights against  Leo “The Lion” Sporino, and Conlan. The movie also explores Adonis’s trial and tribulations in Philadelphia as he comes to grip with taking on the famous last name of his dead father and making sure that he can forge his own legacy.

The theme that stood out to me in the movie was family. This is something that Adonis battles with as he never grew up with a father figure as Apollo died before he was born, and his biological mother died when he was still young. An aspect of family that his strong throughout the movie is the last name of Creed, and whether Adonis is willing to embrace it or ignore it all together. This internal battle that Adonis is having with himself is split into three different stages of the movie; these stages are: ignoring and removing himself from the Creed name altogether, starting to understand its importance and how it has shaped him as a person, and finally embracing it and wanting to prove that he is worthy of having a last name like that.

The first time where the viewer sees that Adonis doesn’t know or care about his father is when Mary Anne comes to visit him at the detention centre, and they talk. When Mary Anne asks about his father this passage of conversation begins between the two,
Adonis: I don’t have no father
Mary Anne Creed: What did u say?
Adonis: I said, I don’t have no father
Mary Anne Creed: That’s not true, he passed before you were born but you had a father
Adonis: You knew him?
Mary Anne Creed: He was my husband; Adonis I would like it very much if you would come and stay with me. Do you think you would want to do that?
Adonis: What was his name?
This passage between the two, shows that Adonis does not know anything about his father, and the anger in his voice when he says “I don’t have a father” suggests that whatever he has been told about him is not good and couldn’t be true as we later learn that Apollo died before Adonis was born. This is his attitude for the first part of the film, as he tries to ignore his past and fathers legacy while trying to make it as a professional boxer himself. While still at Smith Boardley Financial Group Adonis travels to Tijuana, Mexico to fight in Pro-Am fights; during his fights in Mexico he racks up a record of 15-0-0. After he quits his job he goes to see family friend Tony Evers who is a trainer at the Delphi Boxing Academy and wants to be taken on by Tony, but Tony refuses as he believes Adonis is not ready. The following conversation then occurs between the two,
Tony “Little Duke” Evers: Kill or be killed people die in there. Your daddy died in the ring. This ain’t no joke
Adonis: I don’t know him. Ain’t got nothing to do with me
17 years after Adonis found out who is real father was, he hasn’t embraced his family history and is trying to distance himself from the Creed name and Apollo altogether. He has a chip on his shoulder where he thinks since Apollo wasn’t around when he was a kid he had to do everything by himself and try to be as good as his Dad. This chip is the motivation Adonis needed as without it he would have never sought out Rocky in Philadelphia to train him. When Adonis begins to train at a gym in Philly, Rocky questions him about how much they know,
Rocky: Do they know you’re a Creed?
Adonis: I don’t go by that. I’m tryna make it on my own. Name’s Johnson.
Rocky: Whose Johnson?
Adonis: Mums name
Even after Adonis has started to take his training seriously and is beginning to form a bond with Rocky, he still is unwilling to take on the Creed name, even though he says it’s because “I’m tryna make it on my own” the viewer starts to get signs that Adonis is actually haunted by his legendary last name and the pressure that has come with that. In the first third of the film, Family is a very strong theme as it drives the plot forward with Adonis’ chip about his last name and doing it on his own. During this time Rocky and Adonis start to form a father-son type of relationship, even though Adonis calls him ‘Unc’ you can tell from his body language and openness towards Rocky that he is that father figure that Apollo could never be. Rocky starts to warm up to the idea of this role and could consider it as a favour to Apollo to train Adonis; as Rocky had the option to stop the fight in which Apollo died in. This part of the movie I can’t personally relate to as, unlike Adonis, I grew up with a father around me and am proud of my family name. Becuase of this though I can put myself in Adonis’ place and imagine my 16 years in this world without a father that helped shape me into the person I am today. This stark contrast and difference between Adonis and myself is very effective as it allows me to appreciate my family even more.     

The crux of the movie is where the second part of Adonis’ internal battle with the Creed name takes place. In this part of the movie Adonis begins to understand the importance of his name with the help of his girlfriend Bianca, Rocky, and his trainers. The importance of his last name is displayed to him through Tommy Holiday the manager of Light-Heavyweight Champion Ricky Conlan. Conlan could be going to jail for 7 years over gun charges so Holiday wants his next fight to be a big one; he sees an opportunity in Adonis as his true identity as Apollo Creed’s son was just revealed to the world. When discussing details about the fight Holiday raises a very interesting point to Adonis,
Tommy Holiday: We would need you to change your name to Creed, it’s just a formality
Adonis: And what if I said no?
Tommy Holiday: Then; then there’s no fight. Without the name there’s no fight, it’s a non-starter
This is probably the point in the movie where Adonis realises how much his last name matters to his fighting career. All Adonis wants to do is fight and win; without using his father’s last name he is unable to take opportunities that are presented to him. Possible fights and business opportunities aren’t going to be the reason Adonis will take on the Creed name, but it is certainly that start of the process of understanding and accepting that the name is something he should be proud of and embrace. This understanding is helped by his girlfriend Bianca. While sharing an intimate moment together, Bianca and Adonis ask each other questions,
Bianca: So, what are you afraid of?
Adonis: I’m afraid of taking on the name and losing, they’ll call me a fraud, fake Creed.
With Bianca, Adonis feels comfortable enough to open up about his past with her, this causes the viewer to sympathise with Adonis as he has struggled with telling people about his family history before. His answer of being a “fake Creed” is telling about the amount of pressure he puts on himself to even try and be considered in the same conversation as his father, he has a fear of embracing the name fully for this reason and is why he wants to make it on his own.  When he starts to doubt himself and whether he is worth it, Bianca reinforces the idea with him telling him to “Use the name, it’s yours”; with the support of Bianca and Rocky, Adonis decides he wants to be known as a Creed officially and will fight Ricky Conlan under the name of Adonis Creed. This part of the movie shows Adonis’ growth as a character as he has matured from the brash person he was in Los Angeles to an understanding and caring person in Philidelphia. This maturation has come with his willingness to deal with the demons that haunt him; specifically the Creed name.   

The final part of the movie is where Adonis overcomes his internal battle and accepts the Creed name as his own. The theme of family is very important in this last part of the movie as Rocky is diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and starts to push away people around him including Adonis, this is the time where Adonis needs everyone supporting him though as he is preparing for his fight against Conlan, and with the added pressure of taking on the Creed name he needs people to lean on. This final part of the film highlights how Adonis has taken on the Creed name and is finally comfortable with being known as Apollo Creed’s son. While visiting Bianca backstage at a concert, Adonis strikes up a conversation with West Philadelphia rapper Tone Trump,
Tone Trump: Aye good luck Baby Creed
Adonis: Don’t call me that
Tone Trump: Don’t call you that, don’t call you what?
Adonis: You just called me baby Creed, I said don’t call me that
Tone Trump: Aye fam dig this I was just showing you love man you don’t got to come off like that
Bianca: Yeah that’s cool that’s cool that’s all love
Tone Trump: Yeah I know it’s cool, you definitely know it’s cool
Adonis: Man who you talking to, you talking real tough you feel me
Tone Trump: You better talk to your little pretty boy boyfriend man. You can get a VIP pass next to your Pop talking to me like that
Adonis hits Trump
Adonis: Fuck you nigga
Here Adonis shows that he really has embraced his last name, as he is defending his dead father and his last name; he does the same later in the movie at his press conference with Conlan.
Ricky Conlan: You a false Creed
Adonis: I’ll show you right now, my Pops ain’t here
This is a full circle from the start of the movie when Adonis was trying to distance himself from Apollo and the Creed name altogether; to now, where he is willing to defend himself against anyone who questions his credibility as a true Creed. In his fight against Ricky Conlan, Adonis is fighting all of his critics and haters, but most importantly he is fighting for his father and his legacy. Although he loses the fight against Conlan, he gains respect from the thousands in attendance and the millions watching around the world and proves that he is worthy of being known as Adonis Creed. After his fight, Adonis gets interviewed by commentator Max Kellerman,
Commentator: Adonis, I know you never meet your father, but if he was here tonight what would you want to say to him?
Adonis: I’d just tell him that I love him. I know he ain’t leave me on purpose. I’m proud to be a Creed.
This is the conclusion of the three stages that Adonis went through with the Creed name. Adonis wants his father to know that he loves him and that he is proud to be a Creed; all of Adonis’ critics have now seen him fight and push a world champion to the brink of defeat. Adonis is no longer a false Creed. This part of Adonis’ internal battle with his last name is the part that I can personally relate to the most. I fully accept my family history and am proud of it like Adonis. In this part of the film his new family of Rocky, Bianca and his cornermen, all support him and want him to succeed. I can also relate to this as I have a family that supports no matter what; this lets me watch the movie and imagine that I am in Adonis’ shoes, which gives me as the viewer a better experience as it is more realistic.     

In conclusion, Creed is a well-constructed movie with multiple themes and exciting plot progression which keeps the viewer intrigued and interested in what is going to happen next. The theme of family and specifically the Creed name is what kept me engrossed in the storylines as until his interview with Kellerman, I never knew whether he had fully embraced the Creed legacy. Personally, I can’t relate to Adonis’ experiences of growing up without a father, but this means that I can watch this movie and imagine how hard life would be without my father supporting me. Fathers not being around for there children also occurs in New Zealand society as I have observed this, particularly in Maori and Pasifika communities.

 

2.1 Essay – The Book Thief

Analyse how language features were used to create a vivid setting

In the Book Thief written by Markus Zusak, language features are used to create a vivid setting, specifically in relation to colours. When language features are used in conjunction with colours it creates an intense and powerful image which allows the setting to become very vivid in the reader’s mind. Three colours would have been seen every single day in Nazi Germany: Red, White, and Black. Every street would have had these colours, representing a period of fear and death where the country was filled with hate; Red, White, and Black were the colours of the Nazi flag, Hitler explained the meaning of the flag in Mein Kampf “The red expressed the social thought underlying the movement. White the national thought. And the swastika signified the mission allotted to us-the struggle for the victory of Aryan mankind and at the same time the triumph of the ideal of creative work …” Although many people saw the flag symbolising something very different; the blood spilled by the German people represented the red, the SS uniforms the black, and coldness of Germany during this 12 year period represented by the white. Zusak has used these three colours effectively throughout the text with language features to create a setting that makes the story of Liesel Meminger the Book Thief even more memorable.

The first colour that is introduced to the reader is white. White is a symbol of purity, innocence, and happiness, but can also be a symbol of how cold death is. The ideas of white that Zusak has presented are primarily shown through the language feature of symbolism. “First up is something white. Of the blinding kind.” The blinding of the colour white represents the coldness of Werner’s passing and how overwhelmed Liesel and Death are from it.    
“Yes, it was white.
It felt as though the whole globe was dressed in snow. Like it has pulled it on,     the way you pull on a sweater. Next, to the train line, footprints were sunken to their shins. Trees wore blankets of ice.” This quote contains a hyperbole as Zusak has exaggerated what Liesel is seeing, the snow is so white that to her 10-year-old mind it feels like the whole world must be covered in this, white is also a symbol of the blanket of oppression that has been placed over Germany by the Nazi Party; like the blanket of white snow, this blanket of oppression is  immovable and covers the country with a heavy force. After reading the Book Thief, I came away feeling like the use of white was emphatic and had meaning and clarity when it was used. The colour white was a perfect contrast to the colour black as they represented very different things but also seemed to cross over with each other. Liesel as a person was the living embodiment of white in the book as she symbolised what white is; purity, innocence, and happiness. This meant that wherever she went in the book, the colour white followed; this created a vivid setting even if it wasn’t mentioned directly. This was possible through the language feature of symbolism.

Red in the Book Thief is the most powerful colour by far. Zusak has portrayed this colour so well that when the reader thinks of the setting or an important moment in the book they see red; that is how powerful the colour is. The language feature of symbolism has been used throughout the book referencing colour, and the repeated use of this specific language feature allows the reader to associate certain images when they read a passage which contains “red”. This association between red and certain images creates a vivid setting for the reader which makes the point that Zusak is trying to get across much more effective; for me, I found that red symbolised violence, danger, the erasing of Jewish history, and the blood spilled by the German people during the 12 year Nazi rule of there country. The violence that red represents is exhibited in the bombings of Himmel street, the red sky that morning was a warning of what was to come when Death uses a simile to describe the sky, it adds to the image that is starting to form in the readers head  “the sky was like soup, boiling and stirring.” This forms the image of a red sky changing colours and reddish clouds bouncing around, although this may be aesthetically pleasing, people who know the old mariners saying of “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning” will know that danger is imminent. This simile adds to the setting as it enriches the image in the readers head, while also having a deeper meaning which allows the reader to think about what the future in the book may look like. Further on in the same chapter, red is again used to create a vivid setting. This time Zusak has used personification when Death is describing the state of Himmel Street and Molching after the bombings, “The streets were ruptured veins”. This gives the image of dark red blood trickling down the street around the corners. Here red symbolises the blood spilled by the German People, this creates an extremely moving image which once again contributes to the setting that is being created for the reader. The most influential use of the colour red is represented through the flames on the night of the burning of the books. The orangey-red flames ripped through hundreds of years of Jewish literature effortlessly leaving a pile of ash behind, while the people of Molching stood there applauding, “To their left, flames and burning books were cheered like heroes.” This book burning represents something much bigger happening in Germany though, the red flames symbolize the Nazis while the books symbolize German Jews. Like the books, the Jews were getting ravaged by the red flame known as the Nazis, while people stood there and did nothing to intervene. Zusak has used the colour red as a symbol of everything wrong with Nazi Germany, the use of symbolism and other language features have made the colour red very meaningful which has added to the overall setting of the book. I believe that red in the Book Thief was purposely used in this way as it is such a bold and strong colour; Zusak has used this to capture the reader’s mind and transport them back in time to Nazi Germany, all through the use of language features relating to red which sets a rich and vivid setting.

“Next is a signature black to show the poles of my versatility if you like.” Black in the book has been used as a symbol of darkness and unhappiness. Zusak has used this colour with the language feature of symbolism to represent the dark history that Hitler put Germany through. If Death has poles of versatility with his colours, then black in the text must directly contrast the colour of white; white stands for purity, innocence, and happiness, whereas black stands for impurity, death, and sadness. The signature black is referring to the Nazi’s swastika on their flag, but the colour black symbolises much more in Nazi Germany, during this period when people heard or saw the colour black fear would strike them down, black was the colour of the uniform of the Schutzstaffel (SS), they were Hitler’s paramilitary organisation who would deal with anyone that was opposed to Hitler or the Party. Zusak has captured this fear of black but has applied it in a different area; death. In the story of Max Vandenburg, Max and the darkness of death and go hand in hand; again Zusak has used symbolism to show this through the colour of black. “A small, black room. In it sits a Jew. He is scum. He is starving. He is afraid. Please – try not to look away.” In one of the books most disheartening scenes, Death describes Max Vandenburg’s current situation. From what Death describes the reader can picture a scared, sad, and vulnerable Jew hiding in the darkness of a room. Zusak has included the colour black in Death’s passage as it starts to get the reader associating the colour black with different images of sadness and despair; therefore Zusak is using symbolism again to convey a more vivid setting. Although Zusak has portrayed black as primarily a symbol of darkness and unhappiness, he  “He (Rudy) smeared the charcoal on, nice and thick, till he was covered in black. Even his hair received a once-over.” Here Rudy smearing black all over himself gives him happiness, but on the flip side causes many people to feel sadness and anger towards Rudy, purely based on the colour he smeared on himself. The reader now starts to come to the realisation that the colour black in the book will have a negative outcome. My opinion is that black is the enforcer out of the three main colours, it strikes fear into the characters, but also has a similar effect on the reader as when they reach a passage that contains black they know that it is a symbol for something much more horrific.

In conclusion, language features in the Book Thief used in conjunction with colours created a vivid setting which as a reader added to the experience of the book. With symbolism being used the most in reference to the three main colours of black, white, and red; this provided an interesting insight as the rich colours put multiple and very different images in my head, but somehow gelled together which created a very vivid setting.

2.9 Reading Response Number 4

Sam Teal

Text Title: Diners

Author: John C Bird

Text Type: Poem

Date Finished:  6th of July

October 18th 1917
This was the day that my Great Grandfather Stead Teal returned to the Regimental Aid Post on a stretcher. The first two stretcher bearers that were sent out to collect him were themselves shelled and killed. Buried underneath the debris, Stead was dug out by a later stretcher party and was carried back to the post.

Diners by John C Bird is described as modern war poetry, but to me, it helped fill the gaps of what my Great Grandfather faced at Passchendaele. As a family, we are aware of the facts of his military service and like all returning war veterans, he was reluctant to pass on the horror of what he had seen in France 1917.

I had known about the Diners poem for a while but when I re-read it, it provided even more vivid images of the trenches and the unspoken words for men and boys arriving at the front not much older than me. In the first stanza the lines “A limb a torso, a tasty entrail” and “for wine they had a vintage red”  gives me the image of trench rats eating the dead and dying while drinking the fresh blood from there lifeless bodies, this is really powerful and deters me from thinking that I could have handled trench life in WW1. It is scary to think that at any given time your friend, brother, or someone you had met at training camp before being shipped to the front, could die at any given moment. The irony of the rats dining well is that the men on the frontline at Passchendaele were quite often malnourished to the point of starving, and were living off food rations of the dead and dying beside them. This makes me wonder if the soldiers on the front line felt like death may be a welcome relief to there current conditions.

Diners then goes onto look at the class system during WW1, “men of breeding accepting there due” this was inherent in the United Kingdom during this time. In Stanza’s two and three Bird talks about those who were not directly involved in the frontline through lines like “in a fine house well back from the front” and “cigars in hand, they passed the port”, these people were usually politicians and retired army generals who were living a comfortable existence with good food and wine; while soldiers on the frontline were fighting for every breath. They were treating their soldiers like pawns in a game of chess, worthless objects that were used to make the hard yards then tossed aside. “Politicians dined well back in Blighty”, these politicians were completely distanced from reality insisting that the allied cause should not be doubted and that more men should sign up as fodder for the generals game of chess.

The 4th stanza reiterates that nothing changes on the front line; the politicians and generals continued to dine, while the trench rats lined up “to savour once more the human entree”, not only was this menu delicious for the rats but it was “from a menu written in blood.” This stanza shows the rats daily wait as they were served up the same meal of human sacrifice; it is hard to comprehend “the unimaginable reality” to wake up (that’s if you managed to get any sleep) and know that a large percentage of the people around you would not survive the day. But what was it for? ‘King and Country’ or the whim of Generals who were miles from the front line but yet decided whether it would be your day to get a piece of shrapnel and bullet lodged inside you, or worse, end up as a meal for the trench rats “seasoned with cordite and gas.” How could you have been possible in that situation and not think even though it was treasonous, that thousands of men have been lost, but no yards have been gained.

When Stead was evacuated to dressing and causality clearing stations with his wounds and then sitting in France for two months before being shipped back to England. Although wounded and with the possibility of not walking again, Stead might have thought that he was the lucky one like many of the wounded around him. His thoughts during this time must have been all over the place, thinking about his fiance Winnie Thompson, Eastburn House and the family farm where he grew up, John and Mary his parents, his brothers who were fighting in different regiments, and his sisters.

I often wonder what Stead’s future would have been like if had not gone with his friends to enlist, but taken up his passage to New Zealand in 1915 on the ionic. There were many possibilities, the original purpose of the trip was for Wool Buying, but with the war already underway would he have stayed in New Zealand and looked to settle there, or would his knowledge of the wool trade taken him to Australia or South Africa. As he was the second eldest brother going back to the farm and having a future there was not a reality, although we know that Stead and Winnie had known each other for years before they engaged, was there a strong enough pull in 1915 to keep him in West Yorkshire?

Diners allow me to imagine myself in a place in a time of history where three generations back members of my family had truly horrific experiences. While also giving me insight into the motivation and ruthless disregard that the politicians and generals had for those serving.

Passchendaele “in this consummate place of slaughter”

 

Bibliography
War Diary 23rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers 4th Tyneside Scottish
Teal S. Record of Military Service
Teal J. Personal communications 1993
New Zealand or the Army. The Decision Was His. An essay by Jane Davies
https://maopaatpasschendaele.weebly.com/conditions-atpasschendale.html

Maturation of Liesel Meminger

1) Initially, what would you imagine a person who steals books to be like?
Untrustworthy? Mysterious? Evil? How does Liesel differ from your initial notions of who a “book thief would be”?

If a stranger asked me to describe what a “Book Thief” would look like, I would be stunned for words. Stealing books is an unusual thing for a thief to steal, compared to other things its monetary value is very low. This is why it is hard to imagine a “Book Thief”, I can imagine an old librarian sneaking a book out of the library that they work at, but I can also picture a young child feeling quite cheeky by slipping a book underneath there coat.
Liesel is a quiet young girl who I wouldn’t expect to become a thief, but she has a mischievous side to her that when given opportunity would come out and compel her to do things that she wouldn’t usually even think of. When this mischievous is paired with something that she loves like books, she will break the law to get what she wants.

 

2) Explain how these early experiences in Liesel’s life would have affected her as a child? What do these early references about Liesel indicate how she is going to interact with others? What will be her goals/ objectives in life? What
conflicts/difficulties may she have as she matures?

Liesel’s early childhood experiences did affect her greatly. At an early age, Liesel and her brother were taken away from there mother and were going to be given to a foster family. On the train, to there new home her brother dies

3) Why are books and words so important to Liesel? How does she learn that
words, can be used for good and for evil?

4) Why does Liesel vow that she will never kiss Rudy?

5) How does Max’s experience in Nazi Germany alter how Liesel views her own
suffering?

6) Liesel continues to steal books throughout the novel. Why is this act important to her? What purpose does it serve?

 

2.9 Reading Response Number 3

Sam Teal

Text Title: Kalyn Ponga called in for Queensland but not certain to make his Origin debut

Author: Anthony Pengilly

Text Type: Article: https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/league/104453953/kalyn-ponga-called-in-for-queensland-but-not-certain-to-make-his-origin-debut

Date Finished:  15th of June

Kalyn Ponga is a fresh-faced 20-year-old Fullback who has had an instant impact in the National Rugby League (NRL) playing for North Queensland in the 2016-17 and is currently playing for the Newcastle Knights on a four-year contract. Ponga’s main attributes are his cunning footwork and explosive speed which has put his game on another level for such a junior player. Ponga had the option of playing for New Zealand or Australia as he has New Zealand parents, but was born in Australia; he eventually committed to Queensland, therefore, Australia as well.
Billy Slater has been the go-to Fullback for Queensland since 2004, but when he was ruled out of State of Origin’s first game with a hamstring injury, and Michael Morgan is the most likely to start at fullback; it leaves a hole in the squad for a reserve fullback. Can Ponga fill that hole?

I would recommend this text to any Rugby League fan, especially someone who is a Queensland supporter or wants to know about the depth in the Maroons squad. The reason that I would encourage you to read this text is that it explains Kalyn Ponga’s situation perfectly with Queensland, and also touches on his competitors for the position as well as his past career achievements and important decisions. Anthony Pengilly has done an excellent job of explaining Ponga’s strengths, and why he has a serious case of being put into the team as the Maroons 3rd string fullback, for example in this piece from the text he talks about Ponga’s kicking ability, “Walters had already spruiked the form of Ponga before he sat down to decide his game, one team, while also highlighting his goalkicking ability when there are a dearth of sharpshooters north of the border. Winger Valentine Holmes, who doesn’t kick at NRL level, has been given the task in the series opener but could very well surrender the role to Ponga, if he plays and when he gets on the field, given he has been a semi-regular kicker this year for the Knights.” With Jonothan Thurston retiring from Origin football it leaves Queensland without a reliable kicker, this is a strong reason why Ponga might be selected to play. Pengilly has also included some facts that many people will find interesting about Ponga’s possible call-up, like that Ben Ikin was only 18 when he debuted for Queensland in 1995 after playing 4 top-grade matches and that longtime Queensland skipper Cameron Smith had only played 18 NRL games before making his debut. If Ponga is selected to play in Game 1 then he will be one of the least experienced players ever to play State of Origin after playing just 22 NRL games. This article is a great read and I would definitely recommend it to any footy fan as it is very informative and interesting.

I can relate to this text on a personal level as I also play Rugby League, and I made my debut for the Otago U15 team in the fullback position. Like Ponga, I am not the biggest of players but utilise my speed and skill to compete with the bigger and more powerful opponents. Before my call-up to the Otago team, I had played two seasons with the Central Otago representative team so wasn’t as experienced compared to some of the Dunedin boys; Ponga is in the same position as some of his possible Queensland teammates like Greg Inglis, Valentine Holmes, and Ben Hunt have played 254, 91 and 199 games at NRL level. Even with these heavily experienced players, Queensland Coach Kevin Walters is still giving Ponga a chance to prove why he should be included in the 17 man squad. Pengilly explains this in this part of text from the article,”It could be a gamble worth taking for Walters and the Queensland selectors, who have had Ponga on their radar after the former Cowboy’s big-money move to the Knights over summer and will delay a decision on Slater’s replacement until closer to kick-off.” This relates to me as the Otago selectors could have picked a player from Dunedin that they had seen more often, but they took a chance with myself and other players from Central Otago; this paid off as we made the final that year. Personally, I am really excited by what Ponga could bring to the Queensland team and the Origin series if he is selected. This article proves that underdogs and smaller players can actually come out on top and compete at the highest level. This also applies to anyone; even when the odds aren’t in your favour you can still overcome them.

Historically players have had to earn their Origin jersey through performing well in the NRL for at least a few seasons, but Kalyn Ponga’s quirky and quick rise through the ranks has thrust him into the spotlight. His ascension from playing schoolboy rugby for Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie), to being a possible candidate for a Maroons jersey is the complete opposite to his fellow Queenslander Ben Hunt. Hunt had to wait 5 years from his NRL debut to be included in the Maroons squad. Although they had very different paths they still ended up in the same place. This article shows that raw talent can be fast-tracked to the highest honour in Australian Rugby League, and proves that Kalyn Ponga is a very special player when others work so hard for countless seasons trying to get noticed by Origin selectors and he gets noticed after only 22 games. Ponga’s rise is uncanny and shows young players that the path to stardom can be different to what they usually see.

Does playing State of Origin hold a higher value for players than representing Australia? After reading this article it left me wondering that exact question. For many, it seems like that is the case as it is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest sporting rivalries, some would say that it is the greatest. “The youngster, who has a Kiwi dad and spent five years living in Palmerston North, did have New Zealand fans salivating over the prospect of him playing for the Kiwis, but he confirmed earlier this year a pledge of allegiance to Queensland and Australia.” This part of the text from Pengilly’s article shows that when Ponga committed to Australia, playing for Queensland was a big part of his decision. Because Origin holds such a high value for players it is starting to decrease the prestige of international competitions, as many players see that second to Origin.

This article has similarities to another article on same the website Stuff. The second article is titled “Darius Boyd chooses New Zealand holiday over State of Origin” unfortunately, Darius Boyd isn’t playing for New Zealand he is just holidaying here as he was left out of Kevin Walters original Maroons squad as well. These two articles are similar as they both describe players who were left out of the original Queensland side but, have ended up in two very different places.

To conclude, I am extremely excited to see Kalyn Ponga get given a shot in a Queensland jersey. Even though I am a New South Wales supporter, I will still be excited to see him on an Origin pitch nonetheless; I have watched Ponga since his Churchie days and have seen how he has evolved and grown as a player. He has become my favourite fullback since Ben Barba left the NRL in 2016 and has proven why he deserves to be classed as a superstar.

 

Characterisation of Death – “The Book Thief”

“Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.”

In the Book Thief, Markus Zusak has portrayed death with human qualities and emotions, which is interesting as death in literature is usually displayed as a non-human like character; usually as a grim reaper type creature with a scythe at his side. Although in the Book Thief, death wasn’t written like this which made it easier for the reader to understand his motives and actions as he was a more relatable character. The following quote is from Death after his first day at Auschwitz, “Please believe me when I tell you that I picked up each soul that day as if it were newly born. I even kissed a few weary, poisoned cheeks. I listened to their last, gasping cries. Their vanishing words. I watched their love visions and freed them from their fear.” This shows that death is actually a kind and caring person and not a monster that everyone perceives him to be.

The Representation of Death: Sam, Logan, and Blake

The representation of Death – ‘The Book Thief’

What do we learn about “Death” in this text?
How is “Death” presented?

Emotions
Try’s to understand people, is fascinated by them
Similar to a human
Different methods to distract him from his work
Liesel isn’t the only human he has cared about
“Haunted by humans”
Looks for hope in humans
Didn’t like mystery
Honest
Humans can’t avoid him
Doesn’t remember every person’s death
Memory isn’t the best

2.9 Reading Response Number 2

Sam Teal

Text Title: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Text Type: Novel

Date Finished: 8th of May

“Heil Hitler” this would have been booming through the streets of Germany for over 10 years, including Himmel Street in Molching where a little girl Liesel Meminger was living an extraordinary life.
The Book Thief was written by Australian author Markus Zusak in August 2004 and was published in 2005. His mother was German, and father Austrian, so as he got older they told him stories about their childhood in Europe, and he is quoted as saying in an interview that “It was like a piece of Europe coming into our house. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those stories led me to my writing. My parents were teaching me how to write, just by the way they related their stories.” Depending on his parent’s stance on the Nazi Party and Germany during that time, their stories could have influenced the way he wrote this book, which would have led to writer bias.
The Book Thief focuses on a young girl called Liesel Meminger who was orphaned with her brother but unfortunately her brother died at the train station. During this traumatic time, Liesel picks up a book titled as the “Gravediggers Handbook” although she cannot read it yet it stays with her throughout the book; almost like death chasing her where ever she goes. The Book Thief then follows Liesel’s life with her new foster family, and how she adapts to living in such a hostile Nazi Germany country; even though she is a loving young girl. The book explores her trials and tribulations on Himmel Street and how her relationships develop with the other kids, but most importantly it follows her improvement in reading and writing skills and how it brings so much happiness into her life, even in the darkest of times.

The Book Thief has many different aspects that interest me, but one that stood out to me was the theme of love and how it was portrayed throughout the book and through the different characters and objects. Without the theme of love, there would be no plot progression which would leave the book stale and boring; the author Markus Zusak had this to say when asked about what the Book Thief is about, “It centres on Liesel and is kind of a love story with Liesel in the middle and everything else revolving around her.” Growing up Zusak might have had someone in his life that is similar to Liesel or in a story told from his parents a character might have given him inspiration for her, as her story seems so real.
The idea and theme of love is portrayed through many different characters in the book, for example, Liesel’s love for books, Max, and her foster-father Hans, Rudy’s love for Liesel, and Hans love for Liesel as well as music. One of the strongest and most heart-wrenching moments in the book is when the Nazi guards are marching Jewish prisoners through Molching and one of them collapses. All the locals see this and don’t do anything to help the poor man on the ground as he is Jewish, but Hans Hubberman is different; he does not have a bad bone in his body, “The Jew stood before him, expecting another handful of derision, but he watched with everyone else as Hans Hubermann held his hand out and presented a piece of bread, like magic. When it changed hands, the Jew slid down. He fell to his knees and held Papa’s shins. He buried his face between them and thanked him.” The resulting consequences for Hans are rough as he is whipped by the Nazi guards and is labelled a Jew lover throughout his town. Hans is an important person and role model in the life of Liesel and this act of kindness shows her that love has no boundaries and that she should respect and be kind to all types of people. This reinforces Hans character as a caring and loving person which causes the reader to become more emotionally connected with the character. I can relate to Hans gesture personally as when I was skiing at Cardrona a less able skier fell over and struggled to get back to his feet; everyone skied past and didn’t take notice of the boy. When I went past I helped him up, that simple gesture and act of kindness made both of our days better.
Another instance of love in the Book Thief is the bond between Max and Liesel. When Max comes into Liesel’s life he somewhat fills the gap in Liesel’s heart that was created when her brother passed away. The two connect through books, words, and helping each other understand and move on from the past which haunts them both. When Max becomes sick and does not wake up, Liesel continues to read to him at his bedside, as well as bringing him a total of thirteen presents each with different stories in the hope that she can tell him about them when he wakes up. After Hans Hubberman’s bread incident with the marching jew, Max realizes that the Nazi’s might come looking in the house; rather than being selfish and staying in the basement he decides to leave, “At just after 11 p.m. that same night, Max Vandenburg walked up Himmel Street with a suitcase full of food and warm clothes. German air was in his lungs. The yellow stars were on fire. When he made it to Frau Diller’s, he looked back one last time to number thirty-three.” He would rather see Liesel be safe than put her in danger. Just over a month after WW2 officially ended, Max returned to Himmel Street and visited Alex Steiner’s shop where Liesel was usually found, “He approached the counter. “Is there someone here by the name of Liesel Meminger?” “Yes, she’s in the back,” said Alex. He was hopeful, but he wanted to be sure. “May I ask who is calling on her?” Liesel came out. They hugged and cried and fell to the floor.” Over time in the book, their love and relationship became so strong that they considered each other family. As a reader I’m surprised that Liesel gravitated towards Max like she did, as at school and as well as the Nazi Youth groups, hatred for Jews would have been drilled into her; although she cares for Max and this became even more obvious when he became sick and during the air raid. Personally, I can relate to the love and relationship between Max and Liesel, but I have not had an experience so far in my life where I didn’t think I would ever see someone again.

Another aspect of the text that interested me was the Character of Rudy and his relationship with Liesel. Rudy was my favourite character in the book, his charisma, loyalty, caring soul, and persistence to get a kiss out of Liesel all drew me to him; I can also relate to his physical appearance as I have blonde hair and blue eyes like him. At school, he is a bright student but also outside of school he loves football and athletics; on top of this he befriends Liesel and they decide to join a group of older kids and steal things, eventually, they start to do this by themselves without the older kids. Rudy’s talents in and outside of the classroom are as much a curse as a blessing, the Nazis are scouting Germany for exceptional kids who perform academically and athletically for a special school which enhance the elite to become ultimate human beings. Rudy’s parents don’t want him to end up dead after the school, so for him not to go his father Alex was conscripted into the army. After Rudy’s father leaves for the army he continues to live a fun-filled life with Liesel which gets them into all kinds of mischief. Sadly his life is cut short at the young age of fourteen in a bombing in Molching which killed most of Himmel Street. The reader never really knows the truth about Rudy and Liesel’s relationship, we know Rudy was invested in Liesel in a romantic way from his classic line of “How about a kiss, Saumensch?” but we are unsure if Liesel felt this way for Rudy. Throughout the book, Rudy would do things to impress Liesel in the hope that a kiss from her would be the reward at the end one of these acts is when he rescues her book, “A book floated down the Amper River. A boy jumped in, caught up to it, and held it in his right hand. He grinned. He stood waist-deep in the icy, Decemberish water. “How about a kiss, Saumensch?” he said.” Rudy most likely did this as he wouldn’t want to see Liesel be upset since she was his best friend, but he also hoped he might get a reward for himself at the end. Unfortunately, Rudy never got the kiss he deserved; after he had died during the bombing Liesel found his dead body and planted a kiss on him. I like to imagine that as death collected Rudy’s soul, a smile would have crept across the young boys face truly knowing that the girl of his dreams actually loved him.

The Book Thief is a well-constructed book that is entertaining throughout and had me wanting to read more. The plot is interesting which kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn’t wait to turn the page every time; the constant change of adventures and characters keeps the plot fresh and enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone over the age 15 as anyone younger would not be able to fully comprehend the book as a whole, and specific messages that Markus Zusak was trying to convey. Having knowledge of what happened in Nazi Germany prior and during the Second World War would also help the understanding of events and places that are mentioned.
Reading the book and writing this report, I had little to none bias. Growing up in a country that is part of the Commonwealth we learn that Hitler was truly evil, so before reading the book I had that preconceived idea. Even so, I don’t believe that this affected my judgement while reading the book, and my personal responses to certain aspects after finishing it.
To conclude, the Book Thief is an amazing book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and believe that most people should read this book sometime in their life.

2.9 Reading Response Number 1

Sam Teal

Text Title: Buoyed by Rabada’s availability, South Africa eye series lead

Author: Tristan Lavalette

Text Type: Article: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/101110/buoyed-by-kagiso-rabadas-availability-south-africa-eye-series-lead-south-africa-vs-australia-2018-cape-town

Date Finished:  2nd of April

Kaisgo Rabada is a budding star in the world of fast bowling, he has already played 28 Tests, 48 ODI’s, and 16 T20I’s and is only 22 years old. His passion for fast bowling and cricket is reminiscent of  Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson opening the bowling for Australia in the 1970’s and 80’s. But like these legendary quicks, Rabada, also has a fiery temper that has got him in trouble with the ICC. After South Africa beat Australia in Port Elizabeth with the help of Rabada’s man of the match performance where he took 11 wickets, the ICC suspended him for 2 tests for breaching the code of conduct. Rabada has successfully appealed his suspension and has now been cleared to play the rest of series.

I would recommend this text to any cricket fan especially someone who appreciates fast bowling and isn’t following Australia’s tour of South Africa. The reason I would recommend this text is that it clearly sums up what has happened to Kaisgo Rabada and his ongoing issues with the ICC code of conduct, along with what has already happened in the series and what we should expect to see in the following games. Tristan Lavalette has done a brilliant job of predicting what will happen in the next test at Newlands he not only states what the new ball will do but also backs this up with evidence and explanation on why it will happen, for example in this piece from the text he talks about Australia’s batting woes, “With the new ball expected to move notably, Australia’s susceptible batting order will once again be in the firing line in conditions they have long struggled in. No Australian batsman is averaging more than 40 in the series and no centuries have been struck to clearly illustrate their inability to kick on.” Lavalette has also included facts and milestones which many people may not know about, they are: Hashim Amla only needs 123 more runs to reach 9000 test runs making him the 3rd South African to do so,  Nathan Lyon is also just shy of a milestone needing 4 more poles(wickets) to reach 400 test wickets, and that Australia is the only team to beat South Africa in Cape Town after they returned to international cricket after there 21 year ban due to apartheid from 1948 – 1991.

This text connects to me on a personal level as I am also a bowler who is passionate about cricket but even more when I bowl. Imagine this, it’s 30 degrees in the middle of January and you have been putting in hard yakka for 20 overs and you finally take the scalp of your opponent’s opener. You would be pumped up and would want to celebrate, but the code of conduct in cricket limits how you can celebrate. In recent years the game has been controlled by the batters, so when a bowler can get an edge over there opponent they deserve to celebrate, and shouldn’t be punished for showing emotion or getting up in the batters grill. The ICC doesn’t see it this way though, so when Rabada bumped into Steve Smith in the second test after dismissing him they saw it as a breach of the code. This, added to his previous offensives which resulted in him being suspended. I view this as poor by the ICC as they tolerate sledging between teams but do not allow passion and emotion from a fast bowler. Personally, I am glad they have changed their decision on this but as Lavalette put it, “There has been much uproar, especially in Australia, over the contentious decision ensuring this soap opera of a series continues to be mired in controversy.”

Historically celebrations from quick bowlers were more in your face and it was okay to give them a sendoff after taking a wicket; cricketing legends like Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Andrew Symonds, and Merv Hughes used to do this all the time and no repercussions would come from it. As the years have gone on celebrations have become more subdue and PC; some would say they have gone soft. So when Kaisgo Rabada showed some intensity in his celebration there was a huge uproar within the cricket community, as we haven’t seen something like this in years. Personally, I don’t see the problem with this, and I believe that the ICC should be focusing on other parts in the game like match-fixing and cheating as they have missed this in the past and they have caused much larger issues socially and within the sport than a bowler bumping into, or celebrating in front of a batsmen.

Has the world become too PC? That is the question that I was confronted with after reading this article, and I answer that question with a resounding yes. Peoples emotions and thoughts are being subdued all over the world just because they don’t fit the perceived norm. This is a problem that isn’t just faced in sport but across social, corporate, and political fields. No one in these sectors wants to be seen to express their real opinions for fear of getting a negative reaction.

This article has similarities to an article written by Chris Yuscavage for Complex. Yuscavage’s article is on “what is and isn’t allowed under the NFL’s celebration rules”, like the ICC, the NFL is very particular and “petty” over how their athletes can celebrate after an achievement. Like many competitors in the NFL, Rabada has been penalised for how he has shown his excitement when accomplishing a milestone or goal. After reading each article I can see parallels between the two organizations and their strictness on celebratory acts.

It is important to note that this response does contain a biased opinion. I am a bowler myself, and as a New Zealand cricket supporter, I have an extreme dislike for the Australian cricket team. This is why I view Rabada’s suspension being reversed as a good thing, whereas if I was reading this from an Australian supporters perspective I would most likely think the opposite, and want him suspended.

Footnote:
As of writing this, three Australian players have been found guilty of ball tampering in the third test at Newlands. Cameron Bancroft was seen on the big screen rubbing sandpaper on the ball then trying to conceal it by putting it down his pants. Steve Smith and David Warner were uncovered as the culprits who made Cameron Bancroft tamper with the ball. Smith and Warner have both received a 12-month ban from cricket, and Bancroft a 9-month ban, as it is believed that because he was the youngest in the team, the leadership group made him do it.
As stated earlier this is where the ICC needs to focus their attention, their rules say that ball tampering only results in a one-match ban; the lengthy bans that the players received came from Cricket Australia. With the recent events, it emphasises how weak the ICC are with cheating and other major offences, but are so harsh on minor things like the way a player celebrates.