Final Essay- Natalie Houston

Natalie Ann Houston

Professor McCoy

20 December 2022

ENG 203-03

“It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean something, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.”–Percival Everett, Erasure

              Coming into this class, I was very nervous and was sure this class would be full of reading and writing essays based off the books. I thought we would be writing more papers rather then THINKing and caring for ourselves as well as my classmates. I have never come into a college course more worried then excited but as the course went on, I became calm, relaxed, and cared for which helped me as an individual and a classmate. My peers were loyal, always there to help me when it was needed and Professor McCoy as well. The process of THINKing helped me become open minded and succeed in writing in ways I struggled with before taking this course. Recognizing my peers and their worries relating to mine made me feel a thousand times better as an incoming student.  I will never forget the first day of class, coming in as a transfer student with no idea where to sit. I was welcomed and felt like I was in a safe place after Professor McCoy talked about what we will be doing within the course. We then discussed the epigraph “Suspicious pants”, we looked it over and discussed with our group what the meaning of these suspicious pants are and why Professor McCoy would demonstrate it to the class. As soon as I recognized what the specific reason was, I was mind blown. It was a pair of pants folded over the back of a chair, the buttons on the pant pockets looked like a pair of eyeballs which provided a “sus” look. After taking more time to think and care for the course I realized that this demonstration had a deep meaning behind it which is what I wrote about in my first essay. I took this epigraph as a way to acknowledge that it is much easier to visually see things when there is a caption to it because it helps others see exactly what is there because we are looking for it from the caption. For example, when we dig into social media, we notice that every time somebody posts a picture, they throw a caption to that picture underneath it. This is because it helps outsiders recognize their photo in the way they want others too, which is exactly what the “Suspicious pants” gave me. I did not notice anything when the pair of pants was put on the board but after I read the caption “Suspicious pants” that is when I noticed it immediately. Professor McCoy explained to the class that it is crazy “a sentence can never be fully understood” which was also directed from Percival Everett. Another thing I felt was extremely important to me was understanding paratext and epitext, paratext includes “non-textual” elements with which authors imbue their texts, which was stated in class and an epitext includes the inscription of the date in which something was written. It could also include biography. Paratext informed my reading in so many grand ways throughout the semester and understanding the epigraphs on deeper levels.

Based on my first essay, after reading it over and allowing myself to reflect on the student I am and the growth I have experienced within this course, I noticed how I spoke on the epigraph of the suspicious pants which I talked about above. I have recognized that this epigraph has had the most significant effect on me, and I feel like this is because I can relate to it in so many ways and the meaning behind it. As I stated in my first essay “When you think back in your life or any type of scenario you realize life would be a mess without some sort of explanation”, which is how I still feel at the end of this course. “After hearing my classmates communicate what they thought the picture of the pair of pants was and then seeing the caption “Suspicious pants” it all added up to us. This is prime definition that we need writing to understand what is happening in any situation”, this sentence is another sentence I stated in my first essay and its amazing to look back and see how my classmates and I reacted to this epigraph. The most important thing I took out of my first essay was recognizing my growth from then to now.

 After carefully letting go of this epigraph we jumped into “The Bacchae and Frenzy”. The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy, which was written by the Athenian playwright Euripides Frenzy is a tale of Dionysos, and the darkest gods seen through the eyes of his servant, Vlepo, which was written by Percival Everett. I never truly knew who Percival Everett was until this class, according to google Percival Everett is an American writer and Distinguished Professor of English, he liked to write literature & fiction novels as well as poetry, he was a spontaneous individual and wrote 19 books within his 22 years. This was one piece of literature that completely lost me, the language was very confusing for me, and I could not seem to stay on track like I wanted to. I felt myself falling off the mountain rather than climbing it as I read this book in class and outside of class, I caught myself having to look up definitions and the true meanings behind many words and sentences as I read the book. I found myself having to read certain pages over and over again to truly understand what was being presented to the readers. Another book we jumped into was I am not Sidney Poitier which had an impact on me in ways I did not think it would. I am not Sidney Poitier shows the life of a character named “Not Sidney Poitier”, his life is a struggle, c and the social hierarchy must balance his wealth with his skin color.  This book described color, struggle, class, and identity which was an immaculate story seeing what Not Sidney Poitier had to go through. On page 13 it quotes “What’s your name?” a kid would ask “Not Sidney” I would say “Okay then what is it?” “I told you. It’s Not Sidney” “Aint nobody called you Sidney” “No its Not Sidney”. This part of the book relates a lot to the epigraph I decided to use “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood. Mere sounds strung together by some agent attempting to mean something, but the meaning need not and does not confine itself to that intention.” Which was directly from Pericaval Everett. Sidney Poitier clearly struggled with allowing others to understand his name being “Not Sidney Poitier”, relating this to the epigraph I used I can clearly see how a sentence can be understood and I also relate this to life as well as the epigraph of the Suspicious Pants because the picture of the pants could have been taken in so many ways especially without the comment stating “Suspicious Pants”. Individuals take so many things differently based on a sentence, and it can be taken the complete wrong way because everyone sees and takes in situations differently.

This course has allowed me to open my mind in so many different ways. Digging deep and taking chances has always been one thing I have struggled with, but this class has provided nothing but positivity in my day to day in this semester. Jumping out of my comfort zone and accepting change to be a difficult but mysterious thing has been exciting and touching. As we end the semester, I can proudly say I understand myself more and on a healthier level then before I took this course. I would say working with my classmates and challenging myself with the Bacchae was my favorite part of the course. Even though I struggled tremendously with The Bacchae I made sure to push through and not back down on what I felt was impossible. It was great being able to understand Percival Everett and who he is as a person as well as digging into novels I would have never looked into unless I took this course. As a student I struggle with managing time and anxiety, the beginning of the semester was so hard for me. I found myself skipping classes due to mental health or just unmotivated which was something that hurt me more than anything because I was not holding that loyalty with my other classmates and showing up for me, or them. moving forward, I will learn to take chances and be more open minded, take risks and allow my brain to focus on where I am not where I am going. I feel so much better as a reader, classmate and student after this course, and I am excited to see where my feet take me next. This is my journey, and I will do everything to enjoy this journey, called life.

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