Last Thursday, Terre Ryan and Ron Tanner, were hosted for “Writers at Work”. Professor Tanner and Dr. Ryan gave some details of their life while they presented their works. Tanner and Ryan presented Missile Paradise and This Ecstatic Nation correspondingly. Reading our four assigned readings prior gave me the ability to look for connections. I learned about what their lives had lead them to write, meanwhile, I tried to contrast and compare what they found with what I read.
In particular, I found a strong connection between Ron Tanner’s Missile Paradise and the poem “Learning to Read”. In both works, we see a division between two groups of people. Tanner’s indigenous people, and the conflict between the slaves and rebs from Harper’s work. Tanner’s experience showed him the life of those who face the consequences of the military force. His work manifests into different points of view that let the reader witness structural injustice from a unique view. Tanner made me feel like the distance between the island and the mainland was an eternity because the lives that were lead appeared to be so different. The shame that lies in the lust of the white American man is a theme opened up by the poem “Learning to Read”, and Missile Paradise. White men perpetrate horrible crimes and getting away with it. The speaker in “Learning to Read” shows us that overcoming such a superior force is not impossible. She learns to read, but the Marshallese are only beginning to face increasingly dire circumstances as the Cold War heats up. The slaves were deprived of intellectual exposure, while the Marshall Island natives were deprived of safe living. Having both works being based in turbulent times (Cold War and Slavery) only serves to better illustrate the inequality. Both stories highlight the large downsides of human conflict, with only “Learning to Read” ending with any sort of comfort.
Kolvenbach comes in stark contrast from the rebs attitude on mass education. The advantages that lie in the understanding of education and reading is shared by both players. However, they don’t see eye to eye on who can benefit from this opportunity. Kolvenbach echoes Father Ignacio’s words who preaches that where ever there is a demand for intelligence it needs to be satisfied. Furthermore, those without a voice need to be represented. The slaves could not read; accordingly, they could not speak up for themselves. For this reason, it is clear why slavery remained for so long. Reading stunted the black person’s ability to fight socially and as a result, injustice continued.
Terre Ryan explained the Americans relationship with the land. This was the Americans trying to dominate and categorize everything they saw. They wanted to be established and used borders to show what they had. Similarly, in “Mending Wall” we see sort of that crazy American attitude of marking territory. It is unnecessary to a certain point, but the symbolism of it maybe excites people, which is why it has stayed around till this day. This also ties into “Accident, Mass. Ave.”, where we see the two drivers instinctively getting into defensive territory mode after the crash. Trying to make themselves seem more in control gives them the same type of pleasure Americans had during the Cold War when the pursuit of happiness and dominance, especially relative to one another, was the name of the game. The happy ending, we see at the end of the poem points to a possible solution for geographical problems: could it be peace? Kolvenbach would agree.