“Watching TV Makes You Smarter” interpretation by Jenniah

In a society where media in itself is beginning to expand and take greater effects on communities today, Steven Johnson’s, “Watching TV Makes YouSmarter” is a very suitable read. In this article, Johnson analyzes the ideal judgment on the role television has on individuals. He tries to prove that the notion of TV only serving to corrupt the minds of others is false and that, in some scenarios, television can actually play as a mind stimulator. He introduces his idea of the “Sleeper Curve”, a way to calculate the amount of cognitive skills and attention that a specific show may require for a viewer to fully understand exactly what is happening. He argues that, “the Sleeper Curve is the single most important new force altering the mental development of young people today, and I [Johnson] believe it is largely a force for good: enhancing our cognitive faculties, not dumbing them down” (Johnson 279). In other words, the role television plays is more effective in everyday lives than we may think. Of course this idea of his does not apply to every show that airs on TV. For example, shows such as Law and Order will be prone to giving viewers more use of their cognitive skills when compared to reality shows that have no main focus.
Johnson explains that “what media have lost in moral clarity, they have gained in realism. The real world doesn’t come in nicely packaged public-service announcements…”(279). This quote, in my opinion, highlights how we define was shows are effective in our daily lives compared to the shows that are their purely for entertainment, playing no role on how we process information.


Tobias Wolff’s “Powder” Interpretation by Jenniah Randall

In Tobias Wolff’s fictional passage, “Powder”, the perspectives and expectations of those who play important roles in day to day lives is informally discussed. Before going into depth and detail about his memory of his skiing trip at Mount Baker with his father, Wolff indirectly let’s readers know that the relationship between his mother and father are on obvious shaky grounds and with even the slightest of wrong moves, the line can break between them.

The narrative is molded around young Tobias Wolff, the “boy who kept his clothes on numbered hangers… bothered [his] teachers for homework assignments… [and] thought ahead” (Wolff). His father on the other hand was more reckless, the guy that was “bankrupt of honor, flushed with certainty… All persuasion, no coercion”. Wolff describes both his father and his own personality as complete opposite. One would think that as a child, Wolff should pursue the nonchalant, confident and firm attitude where, as a parent figure, the father should be more responsible and concerned.

In the story, Wolff’s father is given the great responsibility of returning young Tobias home on time to his mother. If he fails to do so, his consequence is, unfortunately, not being able to bond with his son like he’d like too. By all means, Wolff’s father aims to please his soon to be ex wife, refusing to risk her unleash her wrath and disappointment upon him. He ignores the danger he can potentially be putting his son and his own life in just to get home on time, giving no regards to the massive blizzard snow. As careless, risk taking, and even stupid as his father may seem, it is clear that his intentions mean to do no harm.

Through the events that we’re taking place, Wolff finally learned to let go and instill trust within his father, something his mother obviously didn’t do. He knew that any and everything his father did was all in good action. Wolff’s perspective of his father changed toward the end for the better and he learned to not judge, but admire his father in the ways that his relentless attitude made up for.

Joseph Russell’s “A”Fish Story “” interpretation by Jenniah Randall

In Joseph Russell’s personal story, “A”Fish Story””, the deeper meaning and significance of a simple family fishing tradition is thought about in greater depth and detail. In the beginning of the story, readers are introduced to the enthusiasm, love, and excitement to go fishing as a family. The author would look forward to the preparations of yet another grand fishing trip with his younger sister Karli and their father, who they both loved dearly. As a child, Russell and his sister cherished these annual, precious fishing trips. He explains how he was taught that, “fishing was a get-away; a time where we could leave our hectic lives, forget the troubles of the week, and step back from the responsibilities we had. That was our escape, and we were happy to be there” (Russell 17). In other words, Russell is making the claim that the only purpose these fishing trips held was so that he and his family would have a moment to relax and further free their minds from their day to day work.

As the story progresses, as a reader, I clearly see how the fishing trip is more than just a trip, but also a symbol of representation. Russell molds the fishing trip into being more than just, “something we all enjoyed and something we had done for years” (17). Instead, he begins to understand that fishing was more than just a fun activity, but it was also the key to the quality time with his family, mostly his father, in which he loved. Russell explains that he, “was never there for the fish”(19), although he took much pride in his catches. He knew that the true importance of the trip, “was there for my Dad, and the memory we would always share…”(Russell 19). Through Joseph Russell’s use of descriptive imagery and vivid context easily captivates the minds of readers, giving them a surreal representation of how everything looked, therefore making it easier to feel how heartwarming the moments may have been.

Jenniah’s interpretation of ‘Us and Them by David Seadris

In “Us and Them”, a short personal story written by David Seadris, he explains the shift of his personality and perspective toward people who are different than him in one way or the other. When Seadris and his family moved to their new home, they came across a “different” kind of family, the Tomkeys. The Tomkey’s lived subtly and didn’t allow their lives to be consumed by something like television, which is why they didn’t own one. They seemed to value company and conversation rather than letting technology overthrow them. In one scene of the story, Seadris went to get candy from the Tomkey residence for Halloween. They had placed a sign up saying “Don’t be greedy” referring to the candy they placed for children to take freely. In an impulse, Seadris explains that, “It was disgusting to think that this was what gumdrop might look like in your stomach, and it was insulting to be told not to take too much of something you didn’t really want in the first place” (Seadris). The next day the Tomkeys came by for late trick or treating. Although his family was fresh out of candy, Seadris’ mother insisted that he give the Tomkey children some of his own candy. “All my life chocolate has made me ill. I don’t know if I’m allergic or what, but even the smallest amount leaves me with a blinding headache” explains the narrator, but, out of greed, he decides to try to eat all of his candy instead of dealing with giving just a couple of pieces to the Tomkey children. When the mother tells him to “really take a look at yourself” (Sedaris) it finally hits the narrator how foolishly he had been acting for something so simple. Overall, I feel like Seadris is trying to imply that judging a person’s lifestyle just by comparing it to your own only makes you pity yourself in the long run.

Mother Tongue — by Amy Tan

In “Mother Tongue”, an essay written by Amy Tan, the main theme is discrimination, specifically against her mother. Tan describes her own life briefly at how she uses “different Englishes” freely yet unawarely. Throughout the essay, she writes about her mother’s visit to the doctor for a CAT scan to test for a tumor. Tan writes, “when the doctor finally called her daughter, me, who spoke in perfect English… we had assurances The CAT scan would be found”(Tan). In this quote, she explains the shift of respect the doctor had for both herself and her mother. Is is clear the doctor obviously took Tan more seriously because of her proper English compared to her mother’s “broken”, “limited” English. The theme of discrimination appears repeatedly toward Tan’s mother. Because of her accent and inconsistent perfect English sentences, she is undermined by others. Despite the fact that Tan’s mother reads complex and properly written papers such as Forbes or Wall Street Week, she is looked at by society as uneducated and this goes to show that Tan feels like American society is to judgmental and implies this broad idea that if you are different, you aren’t smart.