Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ernie's Ark by Monica Wood

Blog about these nine stories by former WHS guidance counselor and noted novelist.

15 comments:

Zachary said...

"She sensed the dull, pleasant town of her childhood as a recognizable entity somewhere just beyond reach, as still and poignant as a dead animal, beautuful and beyond revival." Ernie's Ark by Monica Wood pg. 108. I chose this quote due to the fact that Cindy is speaking from a family who is somewhat unaffected by the mill. Bruce is a professor from a different town. Cindy herself is a florist. She recognizes the true beauty of this town and is forshadowing that even if this town makes it through it will never again but the same great town it was.

Zachary said...

"He shook his head, then took a sip of beer. 'Look at that thing, Danny. He's begging God not to take his wife, come hell or-well, or high water. It's like a totem or something. I don't know. A prayer.'" Ernie's Ark by Monica Wood pg. 87. I really enjoy how Monica Wood gives the reader other perspectives on how the ark can be viewed. Here Timmy suggests that this ark is a payment to God from Ernie to keep his wife alive. This is his allegory of the ark. While, actually Ernie did it as a gift to his wife. There was no symbolic meaning behind it except for he wanted his wife to be happy and she was.

Nicole Nutter said...

“Solidarity forevvver, solidarity forevvver, they sung many times, standing on this hallowed floor: The union makes us stronnng! Francine loves that song, she hums it all the time. But solidarity is not a floor, she has found. It is a ladder. People end up on different rungs.” Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood, 163

The metaphor in the quote that solidarity is a ladder is used to show Francine’s understanding of solidarity. When she says that solidarity is not a floor, but a ladder because people end up on different rungs, she means that although they think they came together for common purposes, they ended up having different ideas. This quote ties into the theme of individual against society, with Francine as the individual. While almost everyone in Francine’s town is on strike at the paper mill, Francine really has nothing to do with it because no one in her family works at the mill. However, she still is a bit fascinated with it because it is a big deal in her town. She even wants to be a part of and idealizes the family world of the union worker. She most likely wishes this because both of her parents are either physically absent or mentally absent from her life. Her mother ran away to London and her father is never around because he is too busy having affairs with his college students. The only real parent figure in her life is her stepmother, Cindy. She eventually realizes something about the union and solidarity. What she realizes is that even when people are in a union they are never in complete solidarity. This is because people cannot come to total agreement and everyone has different ideas and beliefs. And Francine is very correct about this.

Nicole Nutter said...

“‘Why would you have taken my picture before Dad knew me?’
Francine cast her eyes down, the pale lashes fluttering behind her thick glasses. ‘I don’t know. I picked you out. I told him and told him. Once I came in the shop just to look at you close.’ She was crying a little, and Cindy hardly knew what to do. She was too shocked to be angry; she couldn’t imagine Francine, who would have been nine years old back then, roaming the streets of Abbott Falls looking for a mother.” Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood, 105

This quote is ironic because Francine found Cindy before Cindy knew her or her father. She was looking for someone to be her mother and she found the woman who would eventually become her stepmother. This irony is effective in showing how desperate Francine was when her mother left their family to live in London. Francine needed someone there for her as a mother figure. She could not rely on her father and her brother could not give her the kind of support she needed. Although she loved her brother very much, she knew that he would leave some day. Francine chose the perfect woman to be her stepmother because unlike her real mother, Cindy cares about the children’s well being before her relationship with their father. The quote ties into the theme of parenthood. This theme reoccurs in each short story. One example is Ernie and Marie’s stories. They are married and have a son together. They believe that they have failed in their parenting. Marie even states that she thinks her love for Ernie pushed their son away because they did not give him enough attention. She thinks maybe if she loved Ernie less, then she would have a better relationship with him. Ernie even has trouble being around their son without getting into an argument with him. In Cindy and Francine’s situation, Cindy is trying to be the best mother she can to Francine. Both Francine’s parents have already failed her and Cindy is only staying with her cheating husband for Francine. Cindy seems to be the best parent in the book because she truly cares for Francine although she isn’t even her daughter. This shows that good parenting doesn’t have to be from your actually parents, it just has to be from someone who beyond doubt cares for you and does thing for you before themselves.

Jared Randall said...

"The world seemed so full of transgressions at the moment, so full there was hardly room to take a breath. To erase just one, to have that power, did not seem like something he could turn down. He felt useful . He felt called." Ernie's Ark, Monica Wood, pg 127. James doesn't even know how many transgressions there are going on in the world of Ernie's Ark. Guys cheating on loving wives, families being separated, moms moving to London, dads naming daughters after wives, plenty of transgressions. That's why this metaphor is effective, because every short story has some conflict that is just ruining someone emotionally. Just in this short story, "Visators", Jame's mother has died, his father wont talk to anyone, some girl showing up reminding Ernie of a horrible time, divorce, absence of love, plenty of transgressions. To erase just one? That sounds awesome to James. No one will be able to erase his divorce, his parenthood, or his childhood, but to erase this one for Tracey would make him feel better about himself. Not only does it make James feel better, it makes the reader feel better as well! A whole 18 pages were devoted to Tracey's transgression, and in 2 they were forgiven. It gives hope that more wrongs will be righted by the end of this story. Maybe James will bond with his dad. Maybe Kenny will give up his angst. Maybe Francine will get a boyfriend. This is one of the passages in the story that turns Ernie's Ark from a story of despair to one of hope.

Jared Randall said...

"She sensed the dull, pleasant town of her childhood as a recognizable entity somewhere just beyond reach, as still and poignant as a dead animal, beautiful and beyond revival." Ernie's Ark, Monica Wood pg 108. The town has obviously been ravaged by a strike that has been going on for months, destroying families, starving people, and just straight up irritating everyone in town. With everyone on strike the town has died, metaphorically speaking of course. Cindy is not involved with the town's politics, so she still sees it as beautiful, remembering her childhood. She has this thought after her new, cheating husband comes home, suggesting that she misses her old marriage and life as part of the town. After all, the grass is always greener on the other side. Ernie's Ark is a story of relationships. Husband- Wife, Father- Son, Father- Daughter, Great Uncle- Nephew, (and in this case) Stepmother- Stepdaughter. Most of these relationships are faulty, in need of a miracle. In this story, Cindy is the miracle. Cindy will endure her new life with a bad husband, remembering her old town, for a while longer, to give Francine hope.

Dylan Gillis said...

"'Doesn't look like it,' Ernie said, wondering why he didn't just storm the hospital gates, do something sweeping and biblical, stomp through those clean corridors and defy doctor's orders and pick her up with his bare hands and bring her home." Ernie's Ark, Monica Wood, pg 23. Ernie is having a conversation with Dan Little. He is foreshadowing the death of his wife, and that things won't get better. He knows his wife's condition is too fatal for her to last much longer with the cancer, and he begins to wonder why he doesn't bring the love of his life since seventh grade home. Monica Wood slightly foreshadows Marie's homecoming as well, but instead of a biblical exit from the hospital, Marie is already ready to leave when Ernie shows up. She too knows that her future isn't optimistic, and she misses Ernie so she decides to head home. Both Marie's conditions with cancer and her homecoming are foreshadowed in this quote.

James said...

"Why not? I asked myself. Im a divorced man with no kids; my ex-wife is married to an eggheaded cadaver who welds scrap metal into giant pretzels and calls it art; my little brother who once adored me hates my guts. The rocks are bare this time of year, I'll be dead before I know I'm drowning, my sister will take care of the dog." Ernie's Ark by Monica Wood page 69. In this passage here Dan Little is suggesting his life is over. He is tell us there is no reason to live anymore. He has lost everything he has ever loved. Dan is looking at the rocks in the rivers bank. He sees that they are showing out of the water and he is on top of the bridge wanting to jump. Dan says he will be dead before he can drown in the water. The only thing Dan is living for is his dog that he says his sister is willing to take care of for him. What this is foreshadowing in the book is that Dan is suicidal and he might kill himself because he has nothing to live for.

James said...

"Look, just consider this a real friendly warning, would you? And just for the record, I hate my job, but I've got bills piling up like everyone else." Ernie's Ark by Monica Wood. In this quote Dan is giving Ernie a warning. In this quote you can see Dan is a nice guys letting Ernie know what he has to his ark. Ernie doesn't want to listen to Dan at all. Ernie wants to keep building his ark. Ernie thinks Dan is this guy that is trying to destroy is project. But Dan tells Ernie he doesn't like his job he is just doing the job so he can pay for his bills. In this passage it is foreshadowing Dan is going to be back at Ernie's house. Right now it is a friendly warning but when he comes back next time he is going to get fined by the city.

Sam Kelly said...

“This small, good place, once drenched with ordinary hopes and decent money, was beginning to furl like an autumn leaf.” Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood, pg.14
In this quote Monica Wood uses a simile to express the emotions spiraling through Ernie’s head about his town by comparing it to an autumn leaf. He is lost at home without his wife Marie of forty five years, as she is deathly ill in the hospital, he is unemployed, and upset with the downfall he believes his life and town is forthcoming. Ernie is looking for a sign from god, anything to rekindle the hope he once possessed and end all of the anger that has built up inside of him. As Ernie is steaming with frustration about god, the “sonsabitches” who continuously ride their dirt bikes through his backyard, and all “life’s cruelties” being thrown his way, he is suddenly hit with the sign he has been so egger for. It lies in the branches that he scattered along the table in a tantrum over his and Marie’s yard. Ernie’s sign was an “old friend”, an old friend that came from Marie, art. Ernie’s happiness was about to come through his wife’s hobby. Art was now the key to all Ernie’s problems right then and there, the joy it brought to Marie as she watched him create a masterpiece once Ernie brought her home from the hospital, the since of youth it brought back to Ernie’s life, and the feeling that life wasn’t dwindling before their eyes.

dylan said...

"Ping, went their hammers. Ping, went their nails. They worked long into the evening, father and son, battening down the hatches, two by two." Ernie's Ark, Monica Wood, pg 189. Monica Wood is using the allusion of comparing Ernie and his son working on his ark, and Noah's ark with every animal being in twos. This was a strong, well-used literary device to finish the novel. Throughout the entire book, Ernie is building his ark installation, and compares it to Noah's Ark and the classic Old Testament story. The theme of this story is persevering through hard times and coming through for family and loved ones. Ernie and his son never saw eye to eye as Marie had hoped, but shown in this quote, they are able to come together after the tragedy of Marie's death. It was a very powerful ending for Ernie to once again be himself with the help of his son, even after the passing of his life-long love. There is a lot of hope and optimism in this quote and novel, even through the hardships everyone faces. Similar to the chapters and separate story organization of the book, everyone comes together in the end and everything begins to seem okay.

Jessie said...

“I wait for her, considering how I might frame an apology, some careful ordering of words that might cover what I’ve done without including who I am. What I have in mind requires a fragility of construction that will not appear to me in this hastening moment. Instead, I shepherd her into the motel lobby, thinking to keep my hand on her shoulder, the way I imagine a father would.” Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood, page 47
Wood uses conflict in this quote to show how much the father is holding back from the daughter. He wants to show her he is a good father and cares but something inside is scared or just doesn’t want to tell her he’s sorry and show how he feels. The conflict we read about is inside the fathers head he is trying so hard to say the right thing that he doesn’t say anything at all because he doesn’t want it to come out wrong. He’s scared to make a mistake but by being scared he’s losing his daughter. He doesn’t say anything but when he puts his hand on her shoulder that is how he’s showing he cares about her. It’s a step because at the beginning of this chapter they barely spoke and when they did it was all fighting. Wood used this literary device well because it gave us a insight on how the father really feels about his daughter but is too scared of making a fool of himself that he holds everything in saying nothing to her. The conflict is what makes the hand on her shoulder way more significant because he’s scared and this is his way of being a good father and trying to be a good father. It works in to the theme of the book because the theme is sticking together through difficult times and how the mill’s difficult times are bringing people closer together. The relationship between the father and daughter is a good example of this because at the beginning of the chapter the father never even called the daughter by her first name and didn’t really show he cared about her at all. After being in the car and having the workers on strike surround them definitely brought them closer together because we see a small change in the father at the end of this quote when he is attempting something he thinks a real father would do, putting his hand on his daughters shoulder and leading her to the safety of the motel. We also see a change in the daughter because she now realizes what he has been dealing with and trying to stay away from.

Jessie said...

“He shook his head, then took a sip of beer. ‘Look at that thing, Danny. He’s begging God not to take his wife, come hell or --well, or high water. It’s like a totem or something. I don’t know. A prayer.’” Ernie’s Ark, Monica Wood, page 87

Wood has Timmy use symbolism to give Ernie’s ark more meaning than just a present he’s giving to his wife. In this quote Timmy thinks of the ark as an offering to keep Ernie’s wife from being taken away from him. The ark is much more than just a present it’s a symbol of Ernie’s love and dedication to his wife, Timmy takes it a little deeper saying it’s Ernie’s pleading to god to keep her on earth with him. I think the literary device was used well in this part of the book because it gave us more meaning to the ark Ernie was building because with out symbolism being used by the characters we would still think Ernie was just building it to enter in a contest which was how it started but turned in to much more once he told his wife and she encouraged him to build it. This works in to the theme of the book because it’s about family and friends sticking together through difficult times and doing things for one another. Ernie building the ark for his wife is an example of this because he is doing it to keep his wife happy till the last day she’s with him and to bring him and his wife closer together. He’s also building to help him self get through the difficult times of slowly losing his wife to sickness and losing his job at the mill.

Chelsea said...

"He scanned the weedy lawn, dotted with exhausted clumps of Marie's wild flowers and the first of the fallen leaves, and saw blowndown everywhere, spindly parts of branches scattered like bodies on a battlefield." Ernies Ark, Monica Wood, pg. 15. Ernie is angry and it is clear why. Nothing is going right for him at this time. Ernie's work is doing a strike and he is laid off, his wife if dying as well. These kids who destroy his property are the last thing Ernie needs, and he is begining to hit the wall. All of the events that pull Ernie downward, are weakening him.

Chelsea said...

"Ping, went their hammers. Ping, went their nails. They worked long into the evening, father and son, bsttening down the hatches, two by two." Earnie's Arc, Monica Wood, pg. 189. Although Ernie's wife Marie has died from cancer, Ernie begins to see thinks slightly different. Francine gives him a winning ticket for dance lessons, which he believes is for two people. In the end, him and his son who he hasn't seen are working together for their wife and mother they lost.