Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L75 – The Civil War

Wars are interesting topics.  They are a great base for storytelling, they solve arguments long past, and the real stories from those wars are quite entertaining.  Sometimes it’s not just the battles that are interesting, though… sometimes it’s the generals, too.  The many battles and generals involved in theAmerican Civil War are easily sorted out.  

The generals are many and multifaceted,  and they are a great base for the war.  each of the generals had a life and career, and many of them had experiences that helped them in the war.  Some had West Point education, some had combat experience from the Mexican-American War, and some had both.    

Probably the most important general in the war was Ulysses S. Grant, born Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822.  He attended West Point and fought in theMexican-American War.  He played a major part in the war, being the man who pulled all the Union strings, under orders from Lincoln.  He also tracked down and inflicted major casualties on the ever-important Army of Virginia under Lee.  He held the presidency afterwards and was the youngest man yet to do so. Though he was a penny-pincher, his administration was scandalized by a partner in business.  Post-presidency, hehad his friend publish his memoirs, and it happened to be on the day he died that they were published. (Biography.com, n.d.)

          William Tecumseh Sherman was Grant’sright-hand man, and he was the one who broke the South’s will to fight through his “scorched earth” policy, otherwise known as “total war”.  Born on February 8, 1820, he started off terribly in his military career.  He even had to be temporarily relieved of command because his superiors thought he wasn’t quite right in the head.  He returned to victory at Shiloh,and devastated Georgia via his infamous “March to the Sea”.   He recognized war for what it was: “War is hell.” (Biography.com, n.d.)

Robert Edward Lee was the other biggest general at the time.  He was born onJanuary 19, 1807 in Stratford, VA.  He commanded his home state’s armed forces after a graduation from West Point and service in Mexican-American War, and then moved up a notch to commander of all Confederate Armies.  After the war, he became the president of Washington college, after being defeated by Grant in the war. (Biography.com, n.d.)

Grant had a right-hand man, so who was Lee’s?  the answer is the infamous Thomas“Stonewall” Jackson. Born on January 21, 1824, Jackson’s family all died, and he went to West Point.  He was teased endlessly by the rest of his class, but luckily this only fueled his determination to succeed.  He graduated 17th out of 59 just in time to go to the Mexican-American War. Hewas then a VMI professor until the war, in which time he trained new recruitsfor what would soon to be called the “Stonewall Brigade”.   At onepoint in the war Lee said that he’d rather lose his right arm than lose Jackson. But lose him he did, sadly, in the all-important battle of Chancellorsville.  (Biography.com, n.d.)

One of the funniest developments in the war general-wise was probably Lincoln’s indecision on a top general.  He goes through McDowell, McClellan, Halleck,Burnside, Hooker, Meade,  and finally finding Grant.  All of those generals had something Lincoln wasn’t satisfied with, and that made him mad.  McDowell’s problem was indecision, McClellan was too bossy, Halleck’s problem has never been known, but was probably stubborn, Burnside was defeated too easily, Hooker was way too slow, and Meade was wounded in combat (but was otherwise good!). 

It all started when Union troops in the now-seceded South Carolina moved to the unfinished fort Sumter on an island inthe middle of Charleston Harbor.  When the nearby Confederate forts surrounding Sumter told them to evacuate or get bombed, the Union said no, and the war began. The Confederate forts surrounding Sumter started a 34-hour bombing of Sumter.  At the end of that time, theUnion soldiers surrendered and said they were out.  Nobody was killed during the bombing.  (Britannica.com, 2017)

The first casualty of the war was not a battle casualty – it was an accident.  Onthe way out of Fort Sumter, the Union fired a fifty-gun salute in the parade,and one of the cannons accidentally exploded and killed the cannoneer.  So the first casualty of the American civil war was not a military, it was a single cannoneer. 

The result of the fall of Fort Sumterwas the first Battle of Bull Run/Manassas. Lincoln called for 75,000 men to support the Union army and quickly end the war.  This was attempted by the capture of Richmond by the Union.  The first Battle of Bull Run was between US General McDowell, and CS General Beauregard.  Each side had about 18000 untrained troops with bad leaders.  The Union wanted to surprise the Confederates and attack the left flank, but it was not executed very well, and the Confederates had time to prepare.  When the reinforcements under CS Johnston arrived, the Union was pushed back. Stonewall Jackson got his name here and rallying under Jackson the Confederates forced the Yankees to retreat wildly.  Lincoln wasn’t too happy with McDowell, and so replaced him with McClellan.

The next battle was the beginning of US General Ulysses S Grant’s career as a military general.  When he assaulted Fort Henry in Middle Tennessee, he captured it with ease and gave the Tennessee River to the Union,and opened supply lines for himself as he moved southwards towards the Alabama border. 

After the capture of Fort Henry, Grant decided to keep going and capture the next fort down the river, Fort Donelson.  This second fort was a little bit harder to capture.  Grant’s strategy was to surround the fort and keep it hostage until it surrendered, but CS Brigadier General John Floyd had other ideas. He tried to make a sortie to clear a path to Nashville, Tennessee, but the sortie failed, Floyd was captured, and the fort surrendered. This opened the Cumberland River to the Union, and yet another supply line to Grant as he took large hunks out of the South. Shortly after the battle, McClellan was relieved of his position and replaced by Henry Halleck. (History.com, Battle of Fort Donelson, 2009)

The next battle was in the small town of Shiloh, Tennessee, and was between Grant, who was still moving south, and Johnston and Beauregard’s combined troops. The Confederates surprise attacked Grant as he was traveling and were initially very successful in taking out Grant’s troops; however, General Johnston was killed in the battle as the Confederates retreated. 

As Grant took a hunk out of the South,the other super-general at the time, CS Robert E Lee, was attempting to retaliate and take a chunk out of the north. The result of this was the Second Battle of Bull Run.  The battle was similar in location and result to the first battle, despite more and better trained soldiers and a new Union rearguard.  The Confederates still won, but the Union rearguard kept it from being a complete repeat of the first Battle of Manassas. 

The next battle was the bloodiest in American history, with 22,717 casualties in one day.  This battle was the Battle of Antietam, inSharpsburg, Maryland.  McClellan was not a daredevil, and he did not use the Union advantages; instead he ordered a series of frontal assault charges on the very well prepared Lee.  Lincoln was then mad at him for the waste of lives and replaced him with Ambrose Burnside. (Battlefields.com, n.d.)

Burnside was soon tested in fire in thebattle of Fredericksburg.  Lee entrenched himself in the Fredericksburg area, and did not move for the majority of the battle.  Burnside, on the other hand, made a series of frontal assault charges that were completely unsuccessful.  This was one of the most lopsided battles in history, with twice as many Union casualties as Confederate.

To begin 1863, Lincoln made Joseph Hooker  Eastern commander and Grant theWestern commander, and gave Grant orders to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi.

          The first major battle of the year was the Battle of Chancellorsville, which was remembered as Lee’s “perfect battle” because his dare-devilishness and Hooker’s timidity made this a massive Confederate victory.   Unfortunately, many fell in this battle, including the infamous Stonewall Jackson, who fell to friendly fire.  Lee’s strategy was to send Jackson and his men on a flanking mission, but after some recon Jackson came back and was accidentally shot by his own guard.  J.E.B. Stuart took over for the rest of the day.  The Union was nearly routed, and the Confederates were the victors, but it came at no small cost; it was the second bloodiest day in the Civil War.  (History.com, Chancellorsville, 2009)

          Following his victory at Chancellorsville, Lee decided to take some of the North and a reputation, and so started a campaign to the North. Lincoln made Hooker follow, but quickly realized that he was not a very good (or fast!) general and replaced him with George Meade.  Lee was excited for the battle when Meade caught up with him in Gettysburg, and nobody could’ve told what was going to happen next.  The first day was light skirmishes, before the whole of the armies were assembled.  The next day found both armies laid out in full battle formation and ready to go. They fought until the day ended, and nobody had a victory yet.  The third day was the day that it was decided.  That fateful morning, Lee launched a heavy attack on the flanks of the Union but made no gains.  He then decided to make a risky decision that cost him the battle… and possibly the war. He set up a full-frontal charge on the Union under CS Gen. Longstreet, and charged with the hope of breaking through the Union center.  This move was called Pickett’s Charge, and was repulsed with massive loss to the Confederates.  This ended Lee’s campaign to the north. 

           After the charge, Lee told his troops to square up in divisions in case the Union made an advance on the Confederate line, and General Pickett made his infamous statement: “General Lee, sir, I haveno division.” (Berenger)

 As the Confederates lost ground in Virginia, Grant topped his achievements off with the capture of Vicksburg, Mississippi.  He heavily attacked at first, but was repulsed, so he decided to wait out a siege and capture Vicksburg.  When this fell from lack of food, the whole of the Mississippi River was Union soil, effectively splitting the Confederacy in two.  Texas and Arkansas could no longer help the Confederates, as they were on the other side of the river. 

Grant had been doing great in taking out the Deep South, but a mistake by one of his fellow generals, William Rosecrans, against Braxton Bragg in North Georgia, ended the Union campaign to the south.  The battle was fought near Chickamauga Creek in Northern Georgia.  The Confederates were victors only because of a miscommunication in the Union lines.  Rosecrans weakened his lines and created a hole in the center where the Confederates were advancing, and a full third of Rosecrans’ army was immediately off the field.  This battle ended the Union Campaign south,but the Union was still way on top of the war. 

The next battle was the last of Lee’s victories, Cold Harbor.  Like at Antietam, the Union made frontal assaults on the Confederate entrenchments,which produced significant Union casualties and no Confederate casualties.  After this, Lee was defense and retreat for the rest of the war, and never put up much of a fight afterwards. 

With William Sherman as the new commander of the West and Grant as the East, Sherman decided to move for the Atlanta Campaign.  He used no supply lines, and was deep in enemy territory, yet completely crippled the Confederacy in his Atlanta Campaign throughout 1864. As he headed towards Atlanta, Georgia, he made sure to take out the railroad tracks.  When he came across one, he had his men take out the railroad ties, pick up the tracks, and bend them around trees.  When the Confederates came along later and saw them, they called these strange rail-covered trees“Sherman’s Bow-Ties”.  When he reached Atlanta, he captured it and burned it to the ground in the Battle of Atlanta.  (Wikipedia.com, 2004)

He continued past Atlanta and captured the capital, Milledgeville, and then Savannah. As he did so, Grant was fending off Jubal Early’s attacks on him in the Shenandoah Valley in Maryland.  Grant sacked and burned many of the resources and homes.  Jubal Early’s attempts to eradicate the Union in the Shenandoah were unsuccessful, and Early’s troops were destroyed. 

As Grant took the Shenandoah Valley, Lee was being besieged in the city of Petersburg. The war was pretty much over at this point, with only two battles and a few treaties to go. 

The second to last battle of the war was the siege of Petersburg, which Lee was stuck in Petersburg and besieged by Grant.  He was allowed out and allowed to fight one last time in the Battle of Appomattox Court House.  After the battle, Lee, the last Confederate Army on the field, surrendered to Grant under very favorable terms on April 9, 1865.

So ended the bloodiest war in American History, with over 620 thousand men dead, all American, and 3% of the entire population; all over a few small arguments over who was free and who wasn’t.   

Bibliography

Battlefields.com. (n.d.). Battle of Antietam. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from https://www.battlefields.org/learn/civil-war/battles/antietam

Berenger, T. (Director). (n.d.). Gettysburg [Motion Picture].

Biography.com. (n.d.). Robert E. Lee. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/robert-e-lee-9377163#

Biography.com. (n.d.). Thomas J. Jackson. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/stonewall-jackson-9351451#

Biography.com. (n.d.). Ulysses S. Grant. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/ulysses-s-grant-9318285#

Biography.com. (n.d.). William T. Sherman. Retrieved November 12, 2018, from Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/william-tecumseh-sherman-9482051#

Britannica.com. (2017, November 29). Battle of Fort Sumter, 3rd version. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from Britannica.com: https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Fort-Sumter#accordion-article-history

History.com. (2009, October 27). Battle of Chancellorsville. (A&E Television Networks) Retrieved November 20, 2018, from History.com: https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-chancellorsville

History.com. (2009, December 2). Battle of Fort Donelson. (A&E Television Networks) Retrieved November 20, 2018, from History: https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-fort-donelson

Wikipedia.com. (2004, May 13). Atlanta Campaign. Retrieved November 20, 2018, from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Campaign class=MsoBibl

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Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L70 – Monarch Butterfly

Probably the most iconic butterfly on the planet, the Monarch Butterfly is an interesting subject, as it progresses from a little bitty inchworm to the beautiful yet robust little creature we call a butterfly.
It all starts with the hatching of the egg. The little green caterpillar that inches its way around on the leaf is a First instar caterpillar. It is pale green and translucent, with no visible colors or antennae yet, and it is very small; about 2-6 mm long, and a quarter of that wide. It eats the egg it hatched from, and immediately begins eating the plant that it is on. This plant is likely to be a milkweed, as the mother laid the egg on her last food stop back at home.
As it eats the milkweed, it collects cardenolides, a chemical that makes them taste horrendous to other animals.
Once it has enough food, it will molt and become a second instar caterpillar. By this time, it has the characteristic bands of black, yellow and white, which actually serves as a warning to predators that says, “I taste disgusting!” The antennae, or as they’re sometimes called, tentacles, start to grow; one pair on the rear end of the caterpillar (the abdomen) and one on the head (thorax) of the caterpillar.
It then molts and becomes a third instar caterpillar. This one has more distinct bands and gains a few more legs (not that they don’t already have enough). The tentacles grow longer, and the caterpillar starts to eat the leaf edges. As it grows, it is eating more food than it needs, to have enough food for the pupa stage, where they don’t eat at all.
It then molts again and becomes a fourth instar. The fourth instar is pretty much just a little bit more complicated of a band pattern, and a good bit bigger. This instar’s development is just gaining white spots on the prolegs near the abdomen of the caterpillar . It then molts again and becomes the final instar – the fifth instar.
The fifth instar has an even more complex banding, so complex that it’s almost like a “caterpillar full-body fingerprint” – each pattern is unique to the specific caterpillar. It also gains even more legs, especially the small ones up under the head.
Once it is full, the caterpillar will then go searching for a pupation site, likely under a leaf or somewhere similar. It will then weave itself a sticky silk pad, and hang under it, as it molts a pupa for itself. This whole process, along with the pupation and emergence, depending on the temperatures, takes from as little as twenty-five days to a max of seven weeks. Through this time as a caterpillar, it has grown significantly. As a first instar the caterpillar was 2-6 mm long and from 0.5 to 1.5 mm wide, compared to 25-45mm long and 5-8 wide, as well as the fifth being 2000 times heavier.
In the pupa stage, the caterpillar molts itself a chrysalis, which is normally bluish-green with small gold spots. As the butterfly forms inside, the chrysalis becomes translucent and the orange and black pattern of wings is clearly visible. This takes about two weeks; when that time is over, the final butterfly emerges in its full glory.
The adult butterfly hangs upside down for a few minutes after emergence and allows its wings to dry. The butterfly then pumps fluids into its wings and takes off to eat some sap.
While the caterpillar can only feed on milkweed, the adult can feed on a variety of other plants, such as goldenrod, horseweed, asters, thistles, alfalfa, red clover, tall ironweed, teasel, dame’s rocket, spotted Joe-Pye weed and coneflower, and of course, milkweed. Their favorite, though, is by far the milkweed plant.
Once they have taken their fill of sap from one of the above plants, they find the migration path and start their 4000-mile journey to a butterfly reservation. Say our butterfly starts in, say, the east coast of the US. It would probably travel towards the Mexico Reservation. It would start at, say, Maine, and skim down the east coast, pass the Gulf of Mexico, and skim the edge of Mexico to get to a sanctuary at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains in Mexico. The butterfly’s trip is over 2,500 miles long, and some butterflies don’t make the trip.
When they reach the sanctuary near October, the butterflies settle down on the trees, which are often dying. They settle down and hibernate through the winter. Once the winter is passed, the butterflies then migrate home, and when they get there, lay their egg, lay down, and die.
With the laying of the egg, the process resets, and the butterfly goes from egg, to caterpillar, to pupa, and then finally to follow the same trip their parents made, all the way to Mexico, and all the way back, only to lay their egg and reset the process again…. It goes on indefinitely…. That’s the life cycle of a butterfly.

Citations

• Cech, Rick and Tudor, Guy (2005). Butterflies of the East Coast. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
• “Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle and Migration”. National Geographic Education. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2013
• Oberhauser (2004), p. 23
• Lefevre, T.; Chiang, A.; Li, H; Li, J; de Castillejo, C.L.; Oliver, L.; Potini, Y.; Hunter, M.D.; de Roode, J.C. (2012). “Behavioral resistance against a protozoan parasite in the monarch butterfly”. Journal of Animal Ecology. 81 (1): 70–9. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01901.x. PMID 21939438.
• “The other butterfly effect – A youth reporter talks to Jaap de Roode”. TED Blog. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
• Petition to protect the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) under the endangered species act” (PDF). Xerces Society. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
• Oberhauser (2004), p. 51
• Agrawal, Anurag (2017-03-07). Monarchs and Milkweed: A Migrating Butterfly, a Poisonous Plant, and Their Remarkable Story of Coevolution. Princeton University Press. ISBN 9781400884766.
• “Reproduction”. Monarch Lab. Regents of the University of MinnesotaFlockhart, D. T. Tyler; Martin, Tara G.; Norris, D. Ryan (2012). “Experimental Examination of Intraspecific Density-Dependent Competition during the Breeding in Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)”. PLoS ONE. 7 (9): e45080. Bibcode:2012PLoSO…745080F. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045080. PMC 3440312. PMID 22984614.. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
• Oberhauser, K.S. (1989). “Effects of spermatophores on male and female monarch butterfly reproductive success”. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 25 (4): 237–246. doi:10.1007/bf00300049.
• “ADW: Danaus plexippus: Information”. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
• Emmel, Thomas C. (1997). Florida’s Fabulous Butterflies. p. 44, World Publications, ISBN 0-911977-15-5
• Oberhauser (2004), pp. 61–68.
• Frey, D.; Leong, K.L.H.; Peffer, E.; Smidt, R.K.; Oberhauser, K.S. (1998). “Mating patterns of overwintering monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus (L.)) in California” (PDF). J. Lepid. Soc. 52: 84–97.
• Solensky, M.J.; K.S. Oberhauser (2009). “Sperm Precedence in Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)”. Behavioral Ecology. 20 (2): 328–34. doi:10.1093/beheco/arp003.
• “Plant Milkweed for Monarchs” (PDF). MONARCH JOINT VENTURE Partnering across the U.S. to conserve the monarch migration. Monarch Joint Venture. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
• Higgins, Adrian (27 May 2015). “A gardener’s guide to saving the monarch”. Home & Garden. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
Higgins, Adrian (27 May 2015). “7 milkweed varieties and where to find them”. Home & Garden. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 29 May 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
Gomez, Tony. “Asclepias Syriaca: Common Milkweed for Monarch Caterpillars”. MonarchButterflyGarden.net. Archived from the original on 16 March 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
“Common Milkweed: Asclepias syriaca L.” (PDF). Plant Guide. United States Department of Agriculture: Natural Resources Conservation Service. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 29 May 2015.
“Asclepias syriaca”. butterfly gardening & all things milkweed. Google. Archived from the original on 7 July 2015. Retrieved 7 July 2015.
• “Butterfly Society of Hawaii”. Butterfly Society of Hawaii. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
• Butterfly Gardening. kansasnativeplants.com
• Wagner, David L. (2005). Caterpillars of Eastern North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ. ISBN 0-691-12144-3
• Iftner, David C.; Shuey, John A. and Calhoun, John C. (1992). Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio. College of Biological Sciences and The Ohio State University. ISBN 0-86727-107-8

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L60 – Scarlet Pimpernel and Tale of Two Cities

Two books, one boring and one fast-paced, one thrilling and one slow.  Let’s see which is the better of the two, Tale of Two Cities and the Scarlet Pimpernel.

The first of the two is the Scarlet Pimpernel.        This book, by Emma Orczy, is fast paced, and is a historical fiction with a mystery-type twist.   The plot is about a man who, under many disguises, such as an old French hag, a brewer, and a traveling Englishman, saves French Aristocrats from the wrath of the peasants (and “Madame Guillotine” as referred to in the book) during the French Revolution.    Throughout the book he has to be very sneaky to preserve his secret identity to keep the French from catching him.   He does eventually get found and then it’s downhill from there, but that’s near the end of the book.    The parts I liked best were the stealth scenes, like when Marguerite is hidden  in the bar near the end of the book, and the author shows Marguerite’s feelings while also presenting a funny example of the sauciness of the Pimpernel himself.     Emma Orczy is a descriptive writer, writing books as good as Henty’s, and just about as descriptively.     As an avid reader,  some research was in order, and I found that The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of a series of about seven books, and thus I am quite excited to read the rest of the series, based on how great the original book was.  As most of these mystery books do, the ending was very happy and everyone was doing fine.

Baroness Emma Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála “Emmuska” Orczy de Orci, born on 23 September 1865, was the writer of The Scarlet Pimpernel, and thus the first person to really instill the “Superhero with secret identity” thing, as well as the “foppish playboy” idea.  One example of the same principles is Batman; Batman’s real identity was Bruce Wayne, a playboy in the late 20th.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is set at approximately the same time, but with a different plot line.   The plotline was about a single group of peasants throughout the whole of the French Revolution.   They take the bastille, and a few other prisons as the French Revolution pregresses, giving them more and more power over the Aristocrats, and eventually it leads up to The Scarlet Pimpernel, though the books were not intended to be in order.        I think the book was a little bit boring, just following a single group of peasants as they rose to power because of the French Revolution.     The battle scenes weren’t as fast-paced, and there was a lot of inferring to be done during some of the faster scenes.  Dickens isn’t descriptive like Emma Orczy and G.A Henty, Dickens is more of actually getting through the story quickly or slowly depending on what’s happening in the book.  One of the family reunions early in the book is very slow, but the storming of the bastille is quite fast and undescriptive.  I would say that it isn’t as enthralling, and is generally quite slow, so a little more time than usual would be required by this book, but only because I like fast, descriptive books. There is also some slang used in the book, so it is a good deal less understandable, than, say, a Rick Riordan or Henty book.

The setting of both of these books was at the same time, during the French Revolution, with each following a different side of Revolution.  The Scarlet Pimpernel followed the Aristocrats and their escapes from Paris, while A Tale of Two Cities follows the peasants responsible for the death of the majority of the Aristocrats.

On the other hand, they are almost completely different, being one of them on one ide and one on the other side of the Revolution.  The Scarlet Pimpernel s more about saving the aristocrats, or as the “citoyens” (French peasants called each other citizens after the Revolution, and as far as The Scarlet Pimpernel says, they were complete jerks to each other) in the book called them, “SACCRRRES ARRISTOS!” while A Tale of Two Cities is all about slaying the aristocrats.

Each of these books is good, and set in the same time, even though they had different views on the subject.  The better book is Emma Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel, while Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is not so good.

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L50 – Out on the Pampas Book Report

       All G. A. Henty books are great, and Out on the Pampas is no exception.  Henty combines a set of historical facts with fictional characters, and packs in a fictional plot with realistic details to make it more real.    Henty is a great writer, and I’ve read a few of his books.  There are ones that start boring but speed up a good bit in the story, and Pampas is an example. 

       The story starts in what Henty names as “B—“, but I’ll refer to it as Berkshire, England.    Mr. Hardy, the dad, decided that “the professions are crowded” and he and his family, a wife, two boys, and two girls, should emigrate to the New World.    He and his wife decided to move to Argentina, because of its massive rivers, fertile land, splendid climate, cheap labor, and probable prospects.   The kids agree, and the first boring part of the story is over; the part took three chapters in preparations and getting ready in general.   They all prepare for the trip – everyone learns Spanish, the boys and girls learn to ride, and the boys learn to shoot.    Nine months later, the whole family is ready to go, they are all packed up, and they have booked a passage to Argentina.   

        Now comes the second boring part of the book, the steamer trip from England to Buenos Ayres, which the book says took about half a month.    In the meantime, a “stiff nor’ wester” hits the boat and makes everybody seasick.    None of them liked it, but I thought Henty’s description of Charlie and Hubert getting out of bed was pretty funny.    After the steamship, they stayed at a friend’s house until they started working on their own the next day.

       The Hardys built their house out of simply mud, straw, and wood.    After they built the house, they put up a fence and called it “Mount Pleasant”.     After a good story from one of the hired men, they build some more on the property, and start planting trees and crops. 

       As more people settled down around them, the value of the property went up, and so did the values of the nearby lots.     The Indians thought that the Hardys were easy meat though.  They were horribly wrong.

       When the Indians attacked, they Hardys had set up a tower to keep a lookout.    This turned out to be an “Oh thank God for that idea” moment.     The lookout managed to spot the Indians at a considerable distance, and the Hardys were able to get ready.  They took care of the Indians twice at their own house, just like this.     The second time they took prisoners, then let them heal and let them free; one of them, being a chief named Raven, really paid off later on in the book.   After the Indian attacks, the plantation was in a state of calm for a while.  The Hardys grew, and got stronger, and the fortifications were improved.    Then, as the plantation grew, they needed more room in their house, so the women were moved to a nearby plantation.

           Sadly, this was happening as the Indians were planning to attack the very plantation the women were moved to.      When the attack happened, Maud and the mom got away, but Ethel was taken captive.    The next few chapters are about the recovery of Ethel, and this is the part where their kindness to the chief paid off. 

     The book shows a scene in the Indian camp, about what might happen to Ethel.    One of the two chiefs wanted to tear her to pieces with a hot iron, while the other one, who happened to be the Raven, wanted to save her and return her, claiming he was treated well by “the white man”.       When it was eventually decided that they should tear her to pieces, the Raven turned traitor and decided to go his own way and help the white man.     He got her out of camp, and in the midst of the battle that ensued when Mr. Hardy and his group arrived, gave him back his daughter. 

            After that incident, the book finishes up with an account of what happens next, about Charlie, and Hubert, Maud, and Ethel.  Each of them gets a quarter of the chapter about what happened to them after the story.  The final chapter was about the sale and value of the now-developed lot and the surrounding community.  The book says that the property sold for five hundred thousand dollars, quite a more than Mr. Hardy himself expected.  And as that was in the late 1800s, that was a massive fortune!  So, at the end of the book, everyone lived happily ever after.

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L45 – 20,000 Leagues Character Analysis

          In the book 20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, the characters were many and each one was different, but the two main characters Ned Land and Professor Arronax were complete opposites.   They had a few things in common, but really not all that much. 

Professor  Arronax was a chill guy with a liking for science-y stuff, especially in the marine sector.  Throughout the book, he was quite obviously completely at ease on the Nautilus, the submarine they were trapped on.   In his time there, he was true to his profession and collected many samples of things undiscovered beforehand, and meantime developed a great friendship with the captain, whose name was Captain Nemo.

Professor Arronax and Ned Land don’t have very much in common.  Both Professor Arronax and Ned Land shared the adventure and stuck together for the most of it.   They mostly completely ignored each other though, and through Ned Land’s planning, eventually escaped the ship.   When they did so, they both wanted to escape, and they did so just in time, as they would have died in the maelstrom if not for that.

 Ned Land is a completely different story from Professor Arronax.  In the book, Ned Land is an extremely excitable whaler with a tendency to get angry.    As soon as he got on Ned Land wanted off the Nautilus, and he didn’t care how he got back on land, he just wanted to be back in Greenland.   Ned Land is basically a “self-appointed victim”, being dragged on board without permission, and then detained there.    He had nothing in common with, and so hated, Captain Nemo, and once attempted to convince Nemo to use the Nautilus as a whaling ship.  After that, they never spoke to each other. 

          The third main character in the book is the infamous Captain Nemo, captain of the Nautilus, and the hater of “landlubber laws”.  Captain Nemo is a firm guy whose general attitude made it clear he wasn’t to be questioned, but otherwise he’s a great guy.    He likes science, like Arronax, and is just as chill.   Nemo is not an excitable guy.  He’s more like the rudder of a ship;  he can’t break, or everything else on the ship is completely useless.  Captain Nemo didn’t care about money, or power, or terrestrial beauty, he cared about the underwater beauty, and collected remnants of that.  One example of this is a 30-pound pearl in a massive clam out off the Indian coast, and another could be the museums of extinct water species remnants, like fossilized trilobites, whatever those are, on the Nautilus.    He lived on the Nautilus for fourteen years, so it’s quite obvious he doesn’t care about being alone with his crew underwater for years at a time.   The book says he supports all his needs from the ocean floor, like a certain seaweed to make some (fake) tobacco to smoke.  This fake tobacco even has nicotine in it!   So, Captain Nemo doesn’t really care about the dry parts of the planet, and even avoids them if he can.  That is, at least the civilized parts.  He frequently goes with his crew to an uncivilized island with only barbarians on it and goes hunting there.

          Therefore, all in all, the three main characters of the book are very different, some to the extreme, like Ned and Nemo, or not too much, like Arronax and Nemo.  But overall, there is no two people that are exactly alike in any way, except maybe looks.   

Posted in 8th Grade, English 8

E8 L40 – Complaining

        The question for today’s Interrogative Informative is “Should we complain to get what we want?”  the answer is absolutely not!  It not only looks bad but makes it more unlikely for you to get the next thing and makes you more dependent on everybody else.  So, complaining is most definitely a bad thing, but why? 

  Option one for an answer is, should we complain to get what we want?  This is a big no-no, though the saying goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”   Being a squeaky wheel means telling everybody what you “need” or “want” and then expecting everyone to just give it to you because you want it.  And then if they don’t you just keep telling them what you want until they do.  Nobody likes the squeaky wheel because they’re never satisfied, because they don’t value it because they didn’t have to work for the thing.    If you need more info on that refer here to my Origin of Value paper.  It gives a good explanation of why we value things, and what determines each thing’s value.   Being a squeaky wheel gives you a bad reputation the more you do it and makes it even harder to get the next thing, even if you really work for the thing.   

             If complaining doesn’t work, then what does?  The answer is working for it.  Working for something is easier than complaining for years, and also gives you more appreciation for the object itself, as you had to work hard for a period of time to get it.   There is absolutely no easy way out of this problem, unless you’ve won the lottery, and that’s unlikely.    Working is the sure way to get anything;  again, look at my Origin of Value essay if you want more on that.  Working for something means that you really want something, and that it’s not just a passing fancy for something that doesn’t mean anything to you. 

 So, in conclusion, the answer to today’s Interrogative Informative is Complaining is not the way to get something, earning it through a good amount of work is always the right way.