Review of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

A decade after the publication of the last novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins has released a prequel to her acclaimed series– and this time, it follows the story of the trilogy’s notorious President Snow. Set sixty-four years before The Hunger Games began, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is told from the viewpoint of Coriolanus Snow, the boy who will one day become the iron-fisted leader of Panem. But the idea of becoming the president seems no more likely than a pipe dream to eighteen-year-old Coriolanus. Ten years after the war that devastated the districts and Capitol alike, Coriolanus struggles to maintain the facade of the affluence that the Snow family once enjoyed. The war left Coriolanus; his kindhearted cousin Tigris; and their proud, if slightly addled, grandmother with little else but their reputations and family home to their names, and Coriolanus’s only hope is to win a scholarship prize to carry him through University–a ticket to a respectable career and the return of wealth to his family name.

The Hunger Games are far from the elaborate show of Katniss Everdeen’s time, consisting of little more than throwing the twenty-four tributes into the Capitol’s dilapidated amphitheater arena with a collection of old weapons to beat each other to death with. But this year, a new twist is introduced– one that may be Coriolanus’s greatest hope for the renown he needs. Each tribute will be matched with a mentor– and Coriolanus is placed with the vividly charming Lucy Gray Baird from District 12. As the path to the Games continues, this year proves itself to be a far cry from those past, catapulting Panem into an era of a new and changed Hunger Games.

As would be expected, Coriolanus is much more of an antihero than the heroine of the original trilogy. While Katniss is ultimately defined by her fierce loyalty to her loved ones, Coriolanus is ruled by his constant campaign for power, control, and his own benefit. There’s a definite character arc present for him, but it’s almost like the reverse of what you’d normally find. The negative traits are always present, but they’re not nearly as obvious until Coriolanus is placed in desperate situations. It’s sort of like the plot of the book is steadily bringing his true nature to light. In the beginning of the novel, it’s easier to sympathize with him, but as the story goes on, his path to tyranny grows more and more clear– he grows from the charming young Coriolanus trying to uphold his family name to the calculating and opportunistic Snow, the beginnings of the cold-hearted Hunger Games villain.

Aside from the riveting plot and pacing, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes must also be commended for the debates it brings up about human nature and the necessity of control. It’s actually kind of fascinating (if disturbing) to get a glimpse inside the head of someone whose views on human nature take a much darker turn than most literary heroes. Although Katniss’s worldview was far from optimistic, Coriolanus’s is deeply unsettling at points. It’s interesting to note the differences between the two protagonists, especially when The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes references details that come up in the original trilogy. This book really is an origin story, both for Snow and for the Hunger Games themselves. The fact that this is a prequel to a well-known trilogy is hard to forget, but in a good way– you can sense the story building ominously towards the world Katniss Everdeen was born into.

In some ways, this book seems darker than the Hunger Games trilogy, partially because of its protagonist and the knowledge that there’s no possible kind of “happy ending” waiting, at least not for decades after this book finishes. The feel of the book is markedly different than that of the original trilogy, mostly due to the fact that it doesn’t take place inside the arena (Although there’s still the grim violence and harsh consequences that the tyrannical Capitol is known for). Most of the book’s timeline is set before or after the Games, and even during the event, the narration is from an outsider looking in, as Coriolanus is a mentor. Coming back to the nature of the protagonist, this is another angle that works to separate The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes from its predecessors. The idea of the antihero and his differences in perspective, experience, and response to the circumstances he’s placed in make this novel a vastly different kind of story than the one told in The Hunger Games.

All in all, this book is a worthy addition to the Hunger Games saga– it acts well as both a prequel a novel, and in no way does it seem like a copy of the original trilogy. The direction The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes takes is a fascinating one, and unique to both the rest of the series and the wider landscape of dystopian YA literature. I loved finding the nods and tie-ins to the original trilogy– the details connected beautifully, as if this book been planned all along. It’s definitely worth a read, especially for those who love the rest of the Hunger Games series.

Easy A

Easy A

This movie, which was inspired by The Scarlet Letter, follows Olive, who lies about losing her virginity. When her religious classmate, Marianne, overheard this, she spreads the rumor. Soon, guys all over school are asking Olive to pretend they had sex in exchange for gifts, and after being shamed for this, she dresses more provocatively, an ode to The Scarlet Letter, which her English class is reading. Her plan goes wrong when Marianne’s boyfriend, who is cheating on her with the school’s guidance counselor, gets an STD and blames it on Olive. She then opens up via webcast about lying to everyone and comes clean, reunites with her best friend, Rhiannon, who is upset that Olive lied to her, and kisses the guy of her dreams. This movie has an all-star cast. Emma Stone player Olive. I don’t really like her acting and her role in this movie is no different. Amanda Bynes played Marianne and she is hilariously outstanding in this role. Aly Michalka played Rhiannon, and she was awesome in her role. Penn Badgley played Todd, Olive’s love interest throughout the movie. I didn’t feel much chemistry between him and Emma Stone. However, this is the first thing I’ve seen him in where his character is not creepy! Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow played Mr. and Mrs. Griffith, the former being Olive’s favorite teacher and the latter being the school’s guidance counselor. They were great and Lisa Kudrow really stood out when she easily went from sweet and friendly to threatening. I have to give a big shout out to Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, who played Olive’s parents. They were just hilarious and had amazing chemistry! This movie was somewhat funny but also very cringe-worthy, like dance Olive did at the pep rally near the end of the movie. It’s more of a feel-good movie but it’s not that great

Taxi Driver: Movie Review/Summary

Taxi Driver

Description: The movie “Taxi Driver”, directed by the famous Martin Scorsese follows the story of a mentally deranged taxi driver named Travis Bickle. Travis most likely suffers from insomnia which leads to him taking the job, covering night hours in the city of New York. During the day, he parks in front of the presidential candidate Charles Palantine, staring at a beautiful campaign worker named Betsy. One day, he walked into the building with his best suit and asks her on a date. She reluctantly agrees to grab coffee with him after work. Their date is extremely awkward, with Travis seeming to have contradictions in every other sentence. Travis constantly calls Betsy at her place of work until she concedes to go on a second date. Travis takes her to a place in which she wouldn’t want to go in a million years, and for that she realizes she doesn’t want to hang around the taxi driver anymore. Bickle doesn’t take the hint however and continues to call her and send her flowers. Eventually in a fit of rage, Travis storms into the political office of Palantine. He says that Betsy was just like everyone else, contributing to what he considered the scum of the city. At this point, he begins to lose his grip on reality, spiraling into insanity. As he drives around at night, looking through the streets of New York, he feels the city is plagued with a disease that needs to be cured. One day, a high profile man and two police officers enter Travis’s cab. His name: Charles Palantine, the presidential hopeful. After Betsy dumped what he conceived to be a relationship, Travis feels nothing but hatred, probably since she represents the campaign. Bickle decides he wants to assassinate Palantine. He changes his lifestyle by buying guns, eating better, and working out. He eventually scopes out one of Palantine’s rallies to see the amount of security. Next, Travis shaves his head except for a mohawk and walks over to the rally that Betsy was in attendance for. He reaches his hand in his shirt but is noticed by an agent and Travis chickens out. He continues to drive taxis until he notices a girl who he had once saw yanked out of her cab. He finds out she is stuck in her job after she ran away from home and Travis is determined to get her out. Using the guns he had once hoped to use on the presidential candidate, he takes down everyone who was involved in her staying in her unfavorable occupation. He is shot in the process and taken to a hospital. The ending depicts newspapers on the wall, hailing him the taxi driver hero and includes a voice-over of the girl’s family, gratefully thanking him for saving their daughter. He goes back to his job as a taxi driver and Betsy appears in his cab. She seems to have found a new attraction to Travis after hearing the news about his “heroic feats.” Travis lets her go and the movie ends.
My opinion of the movie: I thought the story of Travis Bickle was shot so well and specifically told to build on his complex character. I thought it was interesting how after murdering those 4 people, he didn’t face any charges whatsoever. De Niro, like always, delivered an incredible performance with such an unpredictable hero. Bickle went from what society would deem as a villain, for killing a wealthy, political candidate, to a hero for killing people associated with the girl. There’s no question that Bickle is insane, but the vigilante role he deters to could’ve easily been villainous as well. I think that’s a major contradiction, just as Betsy described the taxi driver.

Score: 10/10, cinematic masterpiece.

This is highly suggested for those who love movies!

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2

Iron Man brings back the billionaire Playboy turned superhero for the third installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Cast:

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark/ Iron Man

Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts

Don Cheadle as Lt. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes/ War Machine

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury

Scarlet Johansson as Natasha Romanoff

 

In Russia the news media covers Tony Stark’s disclosure of his identity as Iron Man. Ivan Vanko, whose father Anton Vanko has just died, sees this and begins building an arc reactor similar to Stark’s.

Six months later, Stark has used his armor to help maintain world peace. He re-institutes the Stark Expo in Flushing Meadows to continue his father Howard’s legacy. Senator Stern demands that Stark turn over the Iron Man technology to the government. Stark refuses, claiming that foreign nations and business competitors are decades away from recreating his work, and that it is his property.

The Palladium Core in the Arc Reactor that keeps Stark alive and powers the armor is slowly poisoning him, and he has failed to find a substitute. Growing increasingly despondent and reckless due to his impending death, and choosing not to tell anyone about his condition, Stark appoints his personal assistant Pepper Potts CEO of Stark Industries, and hires Stark employee Natalie Rushman to replace her as his personal assistant.

While Stark is racing at the Circuit de Monaco, he is attacked by Vanko, who uses his arc reactor to power whip-like energy weapons. Stark defeats Vanko with the aid of his portable briefcase armor, and learns that Vanko is the son of his father’s old partner, Anton Vanko, who had collaborated with Howard on the first arc reactor. Anton was deported to his native Soviet Union following attempts to profit from the technology and died in poverty, explaining Vanko’s desire for revenge on the Stark family.

Rival defense contractor Justin Hammer fakes Vanko’s death and recruits him to perfect a line of armored suits to upstage Stark. Hammer, who equals Stark on narcissism and arrogance, wishes to not only defeat his rival in military contracts, but also wishes to absolutely destroy his legacy. At what he believes is his final birthday party, Stark gets drunk while using the Iron Man armor, forcing his friend, U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel James Rhodes, to intervene. Rhodes dons Stark’s Mark II armor and battles Stark. The battle ends when the combatants both fire repulsor beams at each other, creating a huge explosion. After fighting with Stark, Rhodes delivers the armor to the U.S. military.

Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director, approaches Stark, revealing Rushman as undercover agent Natasha Romanoff and that Howard Stark was a S.H.I.E.L.D. founder whom Fury knew personally. Fury gives him some of his father’s old material; a hidden message in the diorama of the 1974 Stark Expo proves to be a diagram of the structure of a new element. With the aid of his computer J.A.R.V.I.S., Stark synthesizes it. Vanko reveals to Stark that he is still alive and seeking revenge so Stark uses the untested element, ending his palladium dependency.

At the Expo, Hammer unveils Vanko’s armored drones, led by Rhodes in a heavily weaponized version of the Mark II armor. Stark arrives in his new armor to warn Rhodes, but Vanko seizes control of both the drones and Rhodes’ armor and attacks Iron Man. Hammer is arrested while Romanoff and Stark’s bodyguard Happy Hogan attempt to capture Vanko. He escapes, but Romanoff returns control of the Mark II armor to Rhodes.

After defeating his drones Stark and Rhodes confront Vanko himself, now in a new and powerful suit of armor. Neither can match Vanko, but Vanko is ultimately defeated when they fire repulsor rays at each other, causing yet another huge explosion. With his suit too damaged to continue the fight Vanko activates his suit’s self-destruct mechanism, along with that of his drones, apparently killing himself in the process. Stark saves Potts from the exploding drones’ remains. Potts quits as CEO, and she and Stark kiss.

At a debriefing, while news footage of a rampaging Hulk plays, Fury informs Stark that while Iron Man is a suitable candidate for the “Avengers Initiative”, he himself is not. Stark agrees to serve as a consultant if Senator Stern acts as presenter at a ceremony planned for awarding Stark and Rhodes with medals for bravery, which Stern reluctantly does.

In a post-credits scene, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson reports the discovery of a large hammer at the bottom of a crater in a desert in New Mexico. Not only hinting at the Thor movie released the following year but, solidifying the legacy of Marvel’s infamous post-credit scenes.

 

 

The Phantom’s Trial Chapter 11

Crystal Staff

“U-Uncle Angelos!” I stuttered. I hadn’t seen the man since I was five. My mother’s brother had disappeared right after his last visit. He had told me something I don’t think I could ever forget.

~                                                                                                                                                  ~

I was five years old and my Uncle Angelos, my mother’s brother, was visiting after his three month trip to Scotland. I had never known there was a place called Scotland, that is, until my uncle came back and told me where he had been. Angelos had always been my favorite uncle. He was fun, nice, and he brought me presents whenever he visited. He was my mom’s only sibling, well, that I know of. All of my dad’s brothers and sisters were boring and they never brought me presents. I loved dad but I didn’t like his brothers and sisters much. 

Uncle Angelos was just about to leave when he bent down and whispered in my ear. “My dear Marie. Before I leave, you need to know about the dangers this world holds. There are things out there that shouldn’t be. Things that live in the shadows and monsters that live hidden in plain sight. Don’t trust anyone. If you ever need to defend yourself take this and it will protect you. Hold it in front of you and say these words.” He handed me a small, old paper. “I swear that it will protect you, but you must do the same. This is a rare object and if it falls into the wrong hands…” He shuddered. “Terrible things could happen.”

The older man pulled a longer object out of his coat. It was wrapped in cloth so I couldn’t see what it was, the only thing I could tell was that it was sharp. “Goodbye my darling child.”

My uncle put a soft hand in my head, pushed my hair back, and pressed a gentle kiss to my forehead. That was the last time I saw him, but I never forgot those words.

~                                                                                                                                                ~ 

I remembered removing the cloth and seeing a foot long pointed stick. I thought my uncle was joking, but, being five and trusting him more than my own parent, I decided to believe him anyways. The paper had said something in a language I didn’t know, I didn’t bother asking my parents since my uncle said not to trust anyone and both my parents were hopeless in any language. (They could barely speak English without messing up words, or coming up with brand new ones.) It said ‘Nec reversi sunt per Vanquish daemon portæ inferi magna poena: nam si faxis expectabunt.’ Was that even in a language, or was it just gibberish.

To this day I still don’t know what they mean.  I’ve used the gift three times. Once when I had tried to beat up a guy that was three times my size, he turned out to be a shifter. Another time when I thought it would be a good idea to try and attract a bunch of demons, unfortunately it worked and I almost died. The last time I used it was when a shifter had tried to attack Alex, I didn’t do anything to provoke it that time. I had a feeling I didn’t use the large, pointy stick to it’s full potential. 

“Marie, you know this guy?” Alexis asked me shocking me out of my thoughts.

“Y-yeah he’s my uncle. He disappeared when I was really young.”

“You were five years old and the twins were three. I remember finding out Leon was missing, it was a terrible year I was searching and searching. Your father gave up after three months, but it took a year for me to get over him. But you were the sweetest thing and you helped me get my mind off of your older brother,” he sighed.

“I thought you were dead! Or did you just decide you hated me!” I yelled at him. 

“Marie I didn’t hate and obviously I wasn’t dead but-”

“Shut up! Marie this isn’t your uncle! He’s a shifter!” Alexis interrupted. I stared at the man I thought was my uncle.

“Marie, I am your uncle. I was forced to leave, my queen forced me away from you! She said she didn’t want me corrupting her precious daughter. I may be a shifter but I still care about you like my own child. My sister, I mean, my queen refused to let me see you after that last day. I knew it was my last day with you so I gave you the staff! Do you remember it? Do you still have it? You must believe me!” He shouted, pleading for us to believe him.

It hit me then. “M-my mother was your queen?! My mother was the queen of shifters!” I stumbled.

“She still is. Marie, your mother isn’t dead. In fact I’m here to deliver a message.” He handed me a piece of paper. ‘Prepare to lose, brat. I have your sister in chains. Remember five more days. 

P.S. She has such a lovely scream I really do wish they belonged to you.

-Your dear, dead mother

My hand was trembling. They were torturing her. My precious baby sister looked back at Alexis. I saw a mix of emotions in her eyes, anger, fear, worry, just to name a few. When I looked back at my uncle he wasn’t there. Nothing to prove he was ever there. 

“We should tell the others about this. We need to be ready just in case we’re attacked. I’m assuming all the other shifters know our whereabouts already.”

“We have a traitor,” I said, probably stating the obvious.

“Yes we do, Marie. Yes we do indeed,” Alexis growled. We walked down the steps and into the kitchen where Liam was educating the boys on which knife is best for which task. “Boys, we need to talk.”

“You sound mad and if you think one of us did something we’ve been here since the last meeting,” Liam said.

Alexis rolled her eyes. “Liam this is serious. This could be a major setback,” I said to my obnoxious boyfriend.

“What is it then?” Zach asked looking up from the two or three dozen daggers sitting in front of him. 

“We have a traitor in our ranks,” I said gravely.

Can you guess which fairy tale?

golden eye

The hazy light shone, moon piercing his blackness. He was a shadow. A shadow was he. A quick flicking darkness was the golden-eyed ferocity. 

A guttural cry he threw at his bright captor. Into the night went his voice; he had been there, let them know. 

He was a shadow, with a heart of stone. He flew down the leaves, grass, dirt. He was a spirit with bone, a spirit with flesh. His cold-stone heart funneled crimson through his figure and out into the cold-stone air.

He didn’t need flesh, for he was a shadow. A shadow was he. A golden-eyed ferocity.

Rage filled his being, every fiber of his wispy matted being. A rage that made him flick across earth. Intense hunger fueled him, made his stone heart spout his lifeblood out of trenches in his shoulder. He was mad with it, wildly snarling and clawing at anything that could possibly fill his empty shadows.

Meat. He needed to taste it, needed it on his tongue. A yowl burst forth and he rampaged from the branches.

He tensed, warm scarlet flowing endlessly from his side. He saw it, holding his shadows back from every rabid instinct he had. Another shadow, standing in the open. A flesh-being. And it was all his.

Bellowing and leaping, he clamped onto its limb and never let go. Its cries filled his muddled ears, but his growls were louder. With a final whimper, the being fell still and quiet.

He devoured it, fresh iron tang filling his mouth and stomach. His caverns brimmed with the meat he had slain. Indeed, he was a shadow. A shadow was he. Golden-eyed and staring into the night ferociously.

Morning came, a quick flicking blindness that made him roar. Atop the bones and rags of his meal he had slept, but now he slowly bled and tired. His feast had been some blood to fill him, marking the days of his flesh-life. His bones were exhausted, but he cocked his head in anticipation, waiting for the time when he would be full shadow.

But his spirit-days would not come so easily. Before his slow limbs could leap, a flesh-being with a gleaming weapon leapt upon him. And so he fell to the flesh-being, his stone heart stopping, and he was fully a shadow, hovering invisibly over the trees and corpses. And so he shall be forever.

A Second Chance (Part Three)

bed

Nick did this for a few more weeks and hoped he had done the right thing, letting his mom go out with friends, buying her things, and doing chores. But, one day the cloaked man appeared again and said, “You have failed to keep your mother happy. You have failed the mission of being by her side. You sent her out with “friends” without knowing that she doesn’t have friends. The people she’s been hanging out with are not friends but people who use her making her do things for them. You  have failed so I shall take your mother with me, Nick Richards. I am disappointed in you as a father. I thought I had left your mother in good hands but apparently I didn’t. I hoped you would learn from this and become a better son to your mother,” the cloaked man said as he revealed himself to be Nick’s deceased father.

“No! Don’t take her, please!” Nick screamed. He awoke in a cold sweat with his mom by his side. He sat up immediately and hugged his mom for a few minutes crying, “I thought I had lost you. I’m sorry for taking you for granted. I should have been a better son. I’m sorry for never listening to you and bossing you around. If I had known what it was like to lose you I would have done better. I’m sorry mom and thank you for everything you’ve done for me until now. Starting today I’m going to do my best to make you happy.”

“Nick, you don’t have to be sorry. I should have asked for help and you are perfect the way you are; you may have been annoying at times but I’m glad and thankful that you are my son.”

“Mom, I met dad in my dream. You died in a car accident and I had to live with a foster family and I met dad.  He told me he would give me another chance to make you happy, but instead of staying by your side I sent you away because I thought you didn’t like me and liked your friends, but I was wrong and you were taken from me again. After that I realized that I should have done better and stuck by your side instead of pushing you away and taking you for granted. From now on I’ll help you with the chores and go grocery shopping with you and stay by your side. I’ll never take you for granted ever again,” Nick sobbed.

“It’s okay, Nick. You didn’t know much so you were only acting the way you were taught. When I lost your father I thought I had lost everything.  I thought I should have done better and that if I had noticed  your father was acting weird a little earlier, if I had told him to go to the doctor’s for a check-up, would he still be alive and well with us today? But after some time I realized I did my best and that it was worth marrying your father and having you.  When I was down because of your father’s passing, you would always be there for me and would comfort me like your father used to and that gave me strength that helped me get back on my feet so you don’t have to be sorry. I’m doing all this to repay you for your help after your father’s passing. I’ll ask for help when I need it, but in return you have to promise me that you won’t blame yourself for being a bad son because you are the best thing I could have asked for.” After this exchange Nick helped his mom with chores and they lived appreciating every moment they had together and never taking the for granted.

 

—- Never take someone for granted. Because one day you will end up losing that person. Appreciate every moment you have with the people you love most for once they are gone you won’t be able to go back and thank them for everything they have done for you.—

—Appreciate the small things in life—

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity

I just finished watching Paranormal activity so here I am. This movie follows Katie (Katie Featherston) and Micah (Micah Sloat), who film their lives in order to catch a supernatural presence that appears to be haunting them. The demonic torment gets worse as the movie progresses, beginning with flickering lights and moving doors, and ending with a possessed Katie killing Micah. The most frustrating thing about this movie is the lack of communication between the pair. They never seem to be on the same page with anything and Micah’s blatant disregard for Katie’s wants and needs is infuriating. For example, when Katie felt unsafe and asked to invite the demonologist back to their house, Micah didn’t take him seriously and refused. Another clear example of this is when Katie specifically asked him not to use a Ouija board to contact the spirit and he did it anyway, without acknowledging how it would make her feel. Aside from the lack of respect he has for his significant other, the movie is kind of boring, especially in the beginning. The most interesting parts of this movie take place in the middle of the night, using the camera set up in their bedroom while they are, for the most part, sleeping. The backstory as to why or how Katie has been haunted by this presence since childhood is almost nonexistent, but explained much better in the third Paranormal Activity movie. I enjoyed that this movie was set up to seem like these were actual events that took place, and it fits well with the timeline of the second movie. As for the acting, Featherston and Sloat were less-than-average actors with no on-screen chemistry at all and as disappointing as that is, it is also expected based on their lack of experience and the low quality and budget of the film itself. The movie is fun to watch, in the sense that it is very easy to make fun of and ridicule.

The Hero’s Sacrifice

hero

The Heroic Sacrifice

Why did Marvel kill one of their most prosperous and grossing superheroes Iron-Man? Why did Harry Potter walk into battle purposefully trying to die? Why did the 54th Regiment in the Civil War march across enemy lines, knowing they didn’t have a chance at winning? A hero in any story must travel though a universal cycle entitled The Hero’s Journey. A significant component of this journey involves the hero having to sacrifice themselves. This section is exemplified in stories such as Beowulf and movies like The Natural. In the book, Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, the movie The Natural, directed by Barry Levinson, and Avengers: Endgame, directed by the Russo Brothers; the hero sacrifices themselves for the sake of their communities to complete their hero’s journey.

First, in the book Beowulf, the hero Beowulf sacrifices his life by slaying a dragon that is threatening his homeland. This story depicts a warrior-prince, an aging leader whose mead hall was destroyed, and his people terrorized by an almost invincible dragon. He felt he needed to take action, although he knew that fate would be against him in the battle. In his final speech before his demise, in lines 2511-2515 he boasted, “I risked my life often when I was young. Now I am old, but as a king of the people I shall pursue this fight for the glory of winning” … “As king of the people” shows Beowulf’s reason for battling; not for himself, but to win for his people. The reader can understand Beowulf as a true hero to the community and clarifies his true intentions for battling this creature was in the best interest of his people. After his speech, Beowulf is killed in battle, but beforehand with the help of Wiglaf, they slew the dragon. His selflessness and courageous in this suicide mission are something to truly behold as he completed his mission, even though this time fate took him away. Therefore, Beowulf’s noble death in attempting to kill the beast terrorizing Geatland effectively demonstrates the hero’s obligation to sacrifice for others.

In the movie, The Natural directed Barry Levinson, the hero Roy Hobbs metaphorically sacrifices himself to save the team from the hands of The Judge. This film also follows the story of an aging hero who after an incident finds himself in the maternity hospital. The doctors notify him that he is unable to play without the risk of his stomach imploding in on itself. In one scene, in particular, Roy tries to bat in an Evening Batting Practice and immediately collapses from the pain. He knows he’s hurting, and he could very well die but decides to play in the game anyway. The day after, in Roy’s last at-bat, he is seen with blood on his jersey, near the stomach. The viewer understands this as a metaphorical sacrifice of his body and possibly his life as Roy is putting everything including his baseball career on the line. Although Roy isn’t severely harmed, the injury signifies the sacrifice of his career and the possibility of an injury. Thus, both Roy and Beowulf, heroes in their respective stories, sacrificed their lives both literally and metaphorically for their communities.

Next, in the source Beowulf, the hero Beowulf also sacrifices reputation to slay the dragon, knowing he wouldn’t be known as “unbeatable.” Beowulf has always been defensive of his reputation and can be seen in his verbal battle with Unferth before his battle with Grendel. When refuting Unferth’s questioning of his battle-readiness, he states emphatically in lines 581-586 states “I cannot recall any fight you entered, Unferth, that sears comparison, I don’t boast when I say that you, nor Breca were ever much celebrated for swordsmanship or facing danger on the field of battle.” “I cannot recall any fight you entered, Unferth, that sears comparison…” shows Beowulf’s defensive personality, especially when his nobility is questioned. The reader can conclude that Beowulf is proud of himself and his accomplishments and it is one of his more important qualities. Not only this but Beowulf was world-renowned as an unstoppable warrior and a god gifted hero that could take down anything. Going into the fight with the dragon Beowulf knew he was going to die. And yet he chose to fight anyway. Why would a man like Beowulf, defensive as they’ll ever come, sacrifice his god-like identity to face some dragon? His people. Beowulf put his people’s needs ahead of his, not worrying about himself but his country.

Also, in the movie The Natural, Roy Hobbs plays even when blackmailed by the Judge. When Roy is resting in the maternity hospital, the Judge comes to visit him to convince him not to play. In the scene, the Judge has information on Roy’s past that will destroy his Major League Baseball career if he decides to play. The reader reacts to this as the classic moral dilemma; Roy can choose to play, and the media releases the information on his past, or he will let both the team and his fans down. Even with this threat, Roy decides to sacrifice his reputation and his future in the sport for his team and the fans as well as Pop. Although for different reasons, both Beowulf and Roy sacrificed their reputations for their communities, risking things that are important to him.

In the hero’s journey, a hero is required to make a sacrifice to essentially prove their heroism. This is represented in both Beowulf and The Natural but also in the movie Avengers: Endgame. In the film, a man Tony Stark also known as Iron-Man and his team are in charge of bringing back the people lost in the previous movie. In the end, Iron-Man must make the ultimate decision. In the final fight scene of the movie teammate, Doctor Strange holds up a single finger to Tony. This represented the number of chances they had of winning the battle and Tony knew this; he must choose to survive for his wife and daughter or sacrifice himself for the sake of the universe. As Thanos was about to snap his fingers to destroy half of the living beings in the universe, Tony takes the stones and puts them in his makeshift gauntlet. He snaps his fingers, says “I am Ironman,” and dies in his wife’s arms. “I am Ironman” is an important line in this scene because it was also used in the first movie or the beginning of Tony’s hero’s journey. The viewer understands that this moment represents his growth from an entitled billionaire’s son to a selfless hero and has his journey has end full circle. This sacrifice made by Tony applies to both Beowulf and Roy Hobbs, as both sets of heroes sacrificed for their communities and loved ones.

Conversely, some opponents of the “hero’s sacrifice” claim that a hero isn’t required to sacrifice themselves and thus Roy Hobbs didn’t truly sacrifice, saying as the hero didn’t die in the process, it doesn’t count. They make a compelling argument when describing their point of view because every hero’s journey is unique to its plot and character. Adversaries also cite the fact that Roy only had blood on his shirt, and he lived happily ever after with his family; however, while they do acknowledge literal sacrifices, they fail to recognize metaphorical sacrifices as well. Sacrifice is defined as to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else. Therefore, the preconceived notion that a hero must die is completely false; in order to complete their journey, they must “surrender… for the sake of something else.” Their points are also disproven as the hero is required to sacrifice in some form, according to the hero’s journey.

In conclusion, in the movie “The Natural” directed by Barry Levinson, and the book Beowulf, heroes of the stories sacrifice significant pieces of their lives to prove their roles as heroes and solidify their hero’s journey. In doing so, they must possibly sacrifice their reputations as well as their lives in both a literal and metaphorical sense. Marvel did kill Iron-Man because it was clear his time had come as a hero and he did sacrifice. Harry Potter knew the only way to defeat Voldemort and the chaos he brought was to sacrifice himself to kill that piece of himself. The 54th Regiment of the Union in the Civil War, an all-black squad marched into battle to make way for future African Americans and do their part, even if it meant the ultimate cost. In all these different stories, coming from all sorts of backgrounds a key word is stated: sacrifice. Thus, characters such as Beowulf and Roy Hobbs, as well as Tony Stark, represent the hero’s sacrifice for their communities and the fulfillment of their individual hero’s journey.

Saying “goodbye” to a story

time to say goodbye

I came to the conclusion a while ago that I needed to rewrite my oldest story, The Elementals. I had published around twenty chapters here on Writer’s Block, but I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere- I found faults in the plot and general story line; I didn’t like how I separated the group; the parents are an issue (anyone wanting to write a decent story about teenagers doing their own thing in the world, which most of the time involves running away, should know to take the parents out of the picture for a while); and I really just had no ideas has to where to take the story based on where I had it. So I am “discontinuing” The Elementals-Book 1-How It All Started; meaning I will no longer post chapters of it here due to the fact that I’m rewriting it on loose-leaf paper and I’d like to keep it to myself until it’s done- then I might begin posting it again. I can assure you that I like the new version (version three) much better, and it’s very promising. But for now there will be no more Elementals chapters here on Writer’s Block. I understand if there were any of you who liked version two (the version that I’ve been posting here) and are disappointed that I’m “discontinuing”- for that please accept my apology; this was a personal decision based on my view of where I was taking the story.

But worry not, I will still post! My version of the classic tale “The Princess and the Pea” still seems promising, so I shall continue that, and of course I will post reviews. Short stories and poetry may appear from time to time, and I’m still trying to figure out how to post artwork. These aren’t set in stone, but here’s a list of some reviews to look for:

  • The Evolution of Claire by Tess Sharpe
  • Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz
  • Vega Jane series book one: The Finisher by David Baldacci
  • Agents of the Glass by Michael D Beil
  • Never Ever by Sara Saedi
  • Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes

Those, plus lots more reviews that I won’t announce yet, and the next few parts of The Princess and the Pea, should be coming soon. And maybe some quarantine-related content…

Now for the more educational part of this post. There are probably some of you out there that have a story going that they don’t know where to take it and feel done with it. I felt that way. It’s not always easy to let go of a story you’ve been working on for a while and feel attached to; sometimes there are ways around completely ditching it. For example, try rewriting it. Usually there’s a better way to approach a story, if the idea’s got potential but the content stinks. Sometimes you can keep the general idea for the story (in my case, kids have elemental powers) and change things like setting and events. Even changing characters can help, along with adding new ones or taking away old ones. Other times a whole rewrite is needed, and that’s okay! Write the story that speaks to you; that may mean that it’s not the same as what you had planned.

The moral is, if you feel like a story needs a rewrite or plot wipe or even minor changes, it’s completely fine! It’s something all writers have to go through sooner or later. No matter how many changes you need to make to an idea or an already-developed story, it’s okay to say goodbye.

Hope this helped some of you who might be stuck on a story and are thinking of rewriting it!