Connect the Dots- Reflective Essay

“Thank you,” I said. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say:


-Percival Everett

During my first two weeks of Beth’s English class, I focused on this epigraph that came from the novel I am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett. We had to talk about what our chosen epigraph made us think about. At the time, I didn’t even know what an epigraph was. According to Cambridge Dictionary, an epigraph is “a saying or a part of a poem, play, or book put at the beginning of a piece of writing to give the reader some idea of what the piece is about.” Now, here I am at the end of the semester, with increased knowledge, and I will continue to discuss this epigraph because what I had once believed was the truth, turned out to be entirely wrong. As a writer, I think it’s important to reflect on how I’ve grown as an individual with the different pieces of literature we read and discuss the factors that led me to alter my beliefs.  

As a human being, there have been many situations that put me in a tough place where it was hard for me to admit I was wrong. Sometimes, I’d rather suffer than hear a simple “I told you so”. When I started working on my first blog post, there wasn’t anything that grabbed my attention and excited me enough to talk about. Looking back on the words I said, I can conclude that I was remarkably incorrect on where the epigraph originated from. Although it was academically, I was being put in a spot in which I had to accept that I stated wrong information. This was a turning point for me as a writer because after this incident, I became more of an open-minded person and someone who was able to admit their wrongdoings. I made an assumption based on what I had read just to later realize that the epigraph was nothing like I had once assumed. My initial understanding of this epigraph was that the words spoken were said by Percival Everett, not Not Sidney Poitier, who was the main protagonist of the novel. 

As the days went by, and we were introduced to Not Sidney Poitier, my original interpretations and thoughts had drastically changed. As I skimmed through the novel at the beginning to increase my background and what we were going to be reading, I saw the epigraph. A lightbulb immediately went off in my head and I was instantly reminded of my very first blog post. After we completed I am Not Sidney Poitier, I began to gain a better understanding as to why these words were spoken by Not Sidney. He was connecting back to what he had once known and accepting his name Not Sidney Poitier. He states, “I have learned that my name is not my name” (Everett 234). The first time reading this line in September, I skipped by it because there wasn’t a connection to be made. When we were divided into groups to make a collaborative blog post, we were able to use these words to focus on the importance of names and the labeling that occurs because of it. We were able to take multiple examples and tie them together to form an argument. 

After discovering that I had been wrong in my first post and after working in groups on a blog post, over time, I tried to pick a concept that connected all of the different works we did in class because I realized that if I did this, I could create a better structure for my posts and it would prevent me from making assumptions on little information. One approach I was able to take was with the term “intertextuality”. As defined by The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, written by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, intertextuality is  “The condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concept that any text is an amalgam of others, either because… and so forth” (215). Throughout the semester and as I wrote blog after blog, I constantly used this term as a starting point. I believe that if I use intertextuality over New Criticism, which “…based their interpretations on elements within the text rather than on external factors such as the effects of a work or biographical and historical materials” (287), I can make connections to what I read and gain a better understanding of others and literature. 

When I first enrolled in this course, I was hesitant to speak up in class on the topics that were being discussed. I didn’t have the intelligence that I do now to confidently raise my hand and give someone feedback or give my own opinion. I didn’t even know what I wanted to achieve by the end of the semester. What was I going to take away from these stories we were reading and these movies we were watching? Everything had a purpose. Each class we were able to take what we learned and connect it to something we had done previously or even our own experiences. As the days went by, I was able to generate a common theme that life is all about connections. Literature is all about connections. By being able to retain multiple views on the world and what you’re doing, you can simplify the tasks and expand your mind to more ideas and intentions. In one of my recent blog posts a few weeks ago, I had pointed out that it is hard to avoid intertextuality as a writer and reader because of our surroundings as students. We want to make comparisons between what we know and what we learn. 

It’s important to have conversations and make connections in life because had I done this when I chose to use this epigraph for my first blog post, maybe I would have been able to unpack the epigraph in a way in which my mistakes could have been avoided. Mistakes are supposed to happen, especially in college, and if I wasn’t able to correct what I had said, I wouldn’t have been able to grow in the way that I did. Since then, I am able to see the world more clearly and use this circumstance to guide me in the direction to improve myself as a writer and even as an individual. 

I have taken the little things from inside this classroom to the outside. When I’m talking to my friends, for example, I frequently use the term I have come to love, as said by Beth, “unpack”. If they state something that baffles me, I tell them to unpack what they mean. Something so simple and straightforward, ended up having an impact on me.  It’s the little things that will change you as an individual and open up your own mind. 

“…yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself”. I set my standards low. I don’t expect the most out of myself as a way to avoid getting disappointed. This line stuck out to me in August in one way, and today it says something different. I know that I am always able to do better than I believe and people have continued to tell me this throughout my life. There are so many people out there that know me a different way that I know myself because other people set higher standards. This class is a perfect example. I had the people I needed in order to help me be successful. I used so many different pieces of literature to form valid arguments and connections in this world. This epigraph is only a part of all of the work that altered my perception in this class. It stuck with me this whole semester, which is why I had to end with it too. It opened my eyes in the world of writing and because of it, I have become someone new, someone better that can see the world in a way I couldn’t before.

The Benefits of English Literature

When I first walked into room 216 in August for English 203, I was nervous. I was anxiously waiting to see how my first day would go and I was nervous because I knew that this class was going to be a challenge. It was going to push me to work as hard as I’ve ever worked. But there was a reason I was put into this class. And as the semester lagged on, I realized that there was a point in everything that we did. Every task we were to complete had a purpose. There were constantly terms thrown at us from The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray and Literary Analysis by Celena Kusch. And each term tied back to the novel or play or book or movie we were reading/watching at that time. We talked about New Criticism and intertextuality which happen to be my two favorite terms. We talked about satires a picaresque novel. We talked about so many different concepts and were asked so many different questions and every single one of them had a purpose. It was all for a reason, just like me being put into this class. But why?

For example, a satire, according to The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, is “A literary genre or mode that uses irony, wit, and sometimes sarcasm to expose humanity’s vices and foibles” (392). The novel that connects to this term is I am Not Sidney Poitier, written by Percival Everett. This novel is also a satire because Everett uses humor to bring the problem of racism to light. In one of my blog posts I talked about racism in literature and how racism will always be a part of it. There are always connections in different pieces of literature that present the issue of racism and race. As I’ve said before, there are reasons Everett did this and there are always connections to be made because of it. By using the terms that we’ve discussed in this class, we can tie together what we’ve done to find the reasoning and purpose behind these novels and poems we’ve read. 

 I can take all of the information I was given throughout the semester, every term, every person, every phrase, and use all of it to further my understanding when it comes to literature and when it comes to this class. Ever since Beth told us to unpack what we say, I have used that term outside of the classroom quite often. And to me, I think that’s a huge step in achieving my objectives when I first stepped foot into room 216. Sometimes when I’m with my friends and someone makes a statement, I will look at them and say, “Can you unpack that” or, I will simply say “unpack”. This word has gotten stuck in my head and now I feel like every sentence ever said needs to be unpacked. 

Ultimately, I am glad I signed up to be in this class. I know that I’ve improved with every piece that I wrote. I’m leaving with an open mind and a new way to write thanks to Beth and my classmates and these novels and everything else we got to read this semester. I think it’s important when it comes to classes like these to slow down and give reasoning to what you do. Make connections to what you already know and in the end, tie everything together. This class has taught me how to take my time and to take everything one step at a time. I have learned that in literature it’s almost impossible to not use intertextuality. There are always connections to be made and that’s because we’re human. We seek to link what we are learning to what we already know. So yeah, I was nervous when I first started. But now, I’m excited to see where it will take me.

It’s All About Connections

In one of my recent blog posts, I discussed the importance of common knowledge and the importance of using intertextuality to increase one’s knowledge on a piece of literature. To refresh your memory, intertextuality is “The condition of interconnectedness among texts…” according to The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, written by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray. As we read the three different poems in Percival Everett’s, re: f (gesture), each time we finished a poem in class, Beth would give us a first task of talking about what we took from the poem new critically, meaning we discuss the poem using what we understood within only that poem and not any outside factors. Throughout the semester, I always seem to have gone back to these terms and using them in my group discussions. I have found them, specifically intertextuality, very helpful when it comes to what we read in class.

In September, one day we were divided into groups to talk about New Criticism versus intertextuality. We had to explain the two different terms and then, of course, explain why any of what we wrote actually mattered. Why should people care about New Criticism and intertextuality? My group came to the conclusion that intertextuality is really inevitable, meaning that it’s almost unavoidable when it comes to anything really; movies, novels, poems. This makes us prefer to use intertextuality as opposed to New Criticism because why would anyone want to talk about something without being able to make comparisons to something else?

Throughout my life, I have used intertextuality without even really realizing it. There’s always connections to be made between movies and books. In high school, we would read a novel and then watch the movie version of it, and after we did that we would make lists of similarities and differences. Or just like in this class, we read a novel and then compared it to the pieces of work we had already completed. These two methods are both logical ways of interpreting different texts. However, based on what I’ve read and the discussions in class, I believe that intertextuality is the method that can really expand one’s understanding when it comes to literature. 

Why do either of these terms matter? Well, if I had to only use New Criticism to unpack the poems “Zulus” and “Body”, I would still be sitting in class trying to understand what Everett was saying. There are names and terms throughout those poems that some people may know because of a class they took in school or because of a movie they watched or a book they read. Because of the task Beth originally gave us, they couldn’t use what they already knew to teach other people about it. These two poems were made to be read using intertextuality. When we read the last poem, “Logic”, like I said in my last blog post, there weren’t names of historical people or complicated body parts or places. It was a simple poem to be talked about new critically, only using the information within that poem. Intertextuality is hard to be avoided because in this class, it’s all about connections. Life is all about connections so that we as humans can gain a better understanding of literature and of each other. 

Logic and the Number Seven

The poem we read during Friday’s class was called “Logic” by Percival Everett. In my opinion, when I think about what logic means, I believe that logic is a way of thinking and reasoning. The Cambridge Dictionary states that the definition of logic is “a formal, scientific method of examining or thinking about ideas”. As we discussed in our groups, we claim that out of all the poems in Everett’s, re: f (gesture), “Logic” is the one that can be talked about new critically. There aren’t really any terms and names that confuse me, as compared to “Zulus” and “Body”. I believe that in order to understand this poem, you have to use logic itself and really think about what it being written. Logic focuses on your own beliefs to think about ideas. If we take our ideas from this last poem and use this method of thinking, we may gain a better understanding of the poem itself.

We were in these small groups practically the whole class trying to figure out what Everett is saying in this poem, trying to connect the different parts somehow. The part that stuck out to us most was the last section of the poem. It reads; “Seven men can be obliterated, burned or hanged or drowned in a lake and forgotten, Men gone, but not seven. Seven men lost, but not seven. Seven is, will be. All men will die but not seven” (Everett 70). Seven is repeated over and over again and it was really driving Amanda crazy. She continued to ask what it meant. What was the point of seven? Our main summary of this last poem about seven was that people can be destroyed and killed because we are tangible. Seven is intangible. You can’t touch it. It’s something that is always there without your knowing. You can go shopping and see that something is seven dollars or you can look at the candy section and say that there’s seven bags of skittles left. Seven cannot be destroyed or forgotten about. It’s a number.

As I sit here and think about all of these ideas that we put together as a group, what really came to my attention was how obsessed we all were with the number seven, all because of a short poem. 37 words. The poem about seven was 37 words and all of a sudden we couldn’t get it out of our brains. There’s that number 7 again. I remember looking at Amanda and saying that now, because of this poem and discussion, every time I saw something with the number seven in it, I would think back to this class. It’s crazy to me how that works. When you talk about one concept so much that it’s glued in your brain and you can’t get it out. As our discussion went on, we pointed out to each other every time we came across something with seven in it. When this happened, we’d laugh briefly and then continue to use our logic to unwrap the poem. 

So what really was the point of this whole thing? Who cares about the number seven? By using logic, humans can form new arguments and draw conclusions based on what they read. It’s a specific way of thinking. I thought logically about this poem to try and unpack it. I thought with my group in different steps to come to a conclusion about this poem. The biggest point I made, however, was simply that seven is now fixed in my brain and every time I see something with the number seven in it, I will think back to this English 203 class my first semester of my freshman year. I went into this class period ready to break down another poem and I left the class period with the number seven lingering in my mind.

Common Knowledge

During last Friday’s class, we read the poem entitled “Zulus” by Percival Everett. The structure of this poem is alphabetical, in which Everett starts each piece of the poem with “A is for” or “B is for” and so on.  Our first task in our small groups was to talk about this poem new critically, which of course we found difficult considering none of us knew all of the names and terms that were used. New Criticism, defined by The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, states “…based their interpretations on elements within the text rather than on external factors such as the effects of a work or biographical and historical materials” (287). It’s almost impossible to unpack and fully understand this complicated poem by Everett new critically because as soon as I saw a name that I recognized, I immediately went to the internet to increase my knowledge on said name. The most important question for me is what meaning is gained if you don’t know who the people are in the poem?

When I look at other pieces of literature we’ve done this semester, I realized that this question applies to these as well. In The Bacchae and Frenzy, some may find it hard to understand if you don’t know the different Gods, specifically Dionysos. I am in an intro to theater class and one of our first topics of the semester talked about Dionysos himself, which is why I knew who he was when I read the play and novel about him. Before we read the novel I am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett, we watched movies with the famous actor Sidney Poitier, which allowed us to gain a better understanding of him and give us background information. By becoming familiar with these characters and people, we can instantly have somewhat of a grasp on what we read. 

Before we could use intertextuality to unwrap this poem, we had to talk in our groups about what we already knew from the poem itself. Everyone skimmed through the poem, pointing out different names that were hard to pronounce. Claire had said that the only reason she knew who Anaximander was, was because of a philosophy class she had taken during college. After a brief discussion, my group had come to the conclusion that we are better off using intertextuality to help us as we read and sometimes we almost do it unknowingly. As humans we naturally make connections to what we already know and it helps us come to conclusions to what we are learning about. 

 But why is this important? As I said, our first job during this class period was to read this poem and discuss it new critically. But because we are human beings, we had to fight the urge to connect it to what is already stuck in our brains from other classes and our own knowledge. It felt like every other word in “Zulus” was a noun of a famous individual or a place which is what made it difficult to read only the poem and nothing else and then try to understand it. I believe that intertextuality is what drives us to increase our knowledge on different pieces of literature because it allows us to make a tie between what is being read, and the information we receive from other novels and our own personal experiences.

The Power of Labeling

Last week, I wrote a collaborative blog post with Kevin, Molly, Hailey, and Shelagh focusing on how names can sometimes be misinterpreted, and often lead to labeling. Our main point of this post was that names may not always represent who you are as an individual. Sometimes names can reflect people perfectly whereas other times they may misrepresent someone. As said in our post, the saintly origin of the names given to the nuns in the novel I am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett, did not represent who they were. I decided to write a follow-up post using intertextuality to further my understanding of labeling and identity in other pieces we have done such as Frenzy

Intertextuality, as defined by The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, says it is “The condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concept that any text is an amalgam of others, either because… and so forth” (215). As Beth said when giving me feedback from our collaborative post, in Frenzy, Dionysos was known by many different names. The first sentence of this novel says, “Dionysos was Bakkhos was Iakkhos was Bromius was Dithyrambos was Evius” (Everett 1). Dionysos is a God, the God of wine and fertility. He is highly worshipped by people called maenads. You would think that because he is a God, he would represent that label the way you would expect. When I think of a “God” I think of someone who is exceptionally praised, powerful, and overall a decent individual. Dionysos may be powerful and very well liked but I would not consider him “good”. As I said in my blog post “Power and Manipulation”, Dionysos took advantage of his aid, Vlepo, and, in my opinion, he even sometimes verbally abused him. It got to a point where Vlepo even wanted him dead. He states “I was furious with him, wanted to kill him…” (Everett 70). With the typical characteristics of a God, Dionysos has no right to treat Vlepo the way that he did in this novel. As readers, we have a vision of what we expect this godly character to act like and I, for one, was disappointed in the way he turned out to be. 

In I am Not Sidney Poitier, at a young age, the main protagonist, Not Sidney, was clearly picked on for his name and was an outcast. He had trouble with his identity because when he introduced himself to others, he either was laughed at or was compared to Sidney Poitier himself. When Not Sidney tried to explain what his name was to other kids, they would beat him up. Not Sidney states, “‘Nothing’s wrong with me. My name is Not Sidney’. This would be about the time the first punch found the side of my head” (Everett 14). This incident with his bullies was just the beginning for Not Sidney as he grows up. Not Sidney was trapped into a negative identity in which he was constantly picked on for his name.

So, this brings us to the typical question; Who cares? What does any of this matter? Labeling is often used to be hurtful and negative towards someone. When you start with someone’s name, we often have our own vision of how we want that person to act. As I read Frenzy, because the main God’s name was Dionysos, I had assumed that he would have the godly characteristic of using his power for good. As I explained before, the character Dionysos was manipulative and he abused his power of a God. When I read I am Not Sidney Poitier, I will admit that I was a little puzzled that the main character’s name was Not Sidney and I did make the guess that he may be a little odd and not treated normally. As readers and even human beings, we make predictions all based off of names. Different names mean different things and as I read the different pieces of work we are doing in class, I can conclude that names are very misleading and don’t often match what we expect them to be.

Racism in Literature

In my last post, I talked about the many things that I wanted to figure out while reading Percival Everett’s novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier. As I read the feedback from Beth, she told me that some of what I was writing about “screamed” Everett’s “Signing to the Blind”. As soon as I read those words, I re-read the essay. The line that stuck out to me most was when Everett was talking about the purpose of some of the old television shows such as “All in the Family”, “The Jeffersons”,  and “Maude” and he stated that the “objective was the exploitation of the division between liberal and conservative, black and white” (Everett 9). 

This sentence got me to thinking about the treatment of the main protagonist, Not Sidney Poitier.  Not Sidney is African-American and because he moved to the South, Atlanta specifically, the people around him sometimes treated him as if he was not as equal; just because of his skin color. As I continue to read through this novel there are different situations that stand out to me in which Not Sidney is exposed because of his skin. For example, when Not Sidney was meeting his girlfriend’s parents, he overheard them talking about him through a heating vent. The first thing he heard Maggie’s mom say was, “He’s just so dark, Ward” and after her husband asked how dark he was, she replied with “black” (Everett 131). My initial thought after reading those words was that it was racist. What makes it racist? For me, I believe what Maggie’s mom said was offensive to Not Sidney because she was acting like it was a problem that Not Sidney had dark skin. 

In The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, written by Ross Murfin and Supryia M. Ray, under the definition of “race”, they explain that “literature is among the most powerful forms of discourse in which race is constructed and racial or racist attitudes are expressed and perpetuated. Readers also bring their own racial and racist attitudes to any work…” (365). In I Am Not Sidney Poitier, Not Sidney is constantly being singled out because of his skin color. As I read this novel, I continue to think about how this happens in real life. “This” refers to the many circumstances in which Not Sidney is attacked because of his skin color. Not only do Maggie’s parents not approve of him, but in the beginning of the novel, Not Sidney was arrested just because of what he looked like. Because he is African-American. 

 After reading the definition of “race” in The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms, and Percival Everett’s, “Signing to the Blind”, the point that sticks out to me most is that in many different novels, including I am Not Sidney Poitier, race and racism will naturally always be a part of literature. Throughout the years, I have read many books and novels in which there was somehow a connection to race and/or racism. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines are two examples of books where the focus for the reader is racism. To sum these up, in both of these novels there was a murder in a Southern town and the blame was put on an African-American because of their skin color. As a reader, we make judgments when it comes to books like these. As I read I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett, I have my own opinions about the words spoken in regards to Not Sidney’s race. Readers interpret everything they read differently, and racism is only part of it.

Figuring Out Your Identity

At the end of our class discussion on Monday, Beth asked us what we want to figure out as we read the rest of the novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, by Percival Everett. She told us to just start writing. So I began and I wrote one thing after the other. There are many different aspects of this novel that stick out to me. For one, who is Not Sidney’s father? Could is really be Sidney Poitier himself? Oh the humor in that. And what about Ted Turner? As of right now, he isn’t really doing anything to be a “father figure” to Not Sidney. And why on earth does Not Sidney continue to say that his name is Not Sidney knowing that the people he’s talking to aren’t going to believe him?

Like I said, I was writing one thing down after another. The point that I made to the class as we shared was that I wanted to know what Percival Everett wants the reader to take from this novel. I want to figure out the possible themes that are brought about throughout I Am Not Sidney Poitier. One possible theme that stands out to me is identity. Who does Sidney Poitier identify himself as? After Not Sidney moved to Atlanta to live with Ted Turner because his mother had passed away, he decided to leave and go back to California. Shortly after he left his new home, he got arrested because “Apparently it’s illegal to be black in Peckerwood County” (Everett 55). The racism down South is something that African Americans have to simply deal with during this time period. Not Sidney has to accept that this is the way that he is going to be treated.

In addition to this, Not Sidney looks a whole lot like Sidney Poitier himself according to his peers. When he was young, he got beat up for telling others that his name was “Not Sidney”. And now that he’s older, instead of getting made fun of, he gets told that he looks just like Sidney Poitier. He even got asked by Gladys Feet if Sidney was his father. Not Sidney says that Sidney Poitier is not his father, but he does not know for sure if he could be. Over the years, Not Sidney learned that this was how it was going to be. His own name caused many conflicts for himself. 

Luckily for Not Sidney, he got a different reaction when he met one of his professors, Percival Everett. Instead of confusion and the urge to make fun of the name, Professor Everett said “I like it” (Everett 87) in response to Not Sidney saying that Not Sidney was his name. Not Sidney, out of habit, had to explain that his name really was Not Sidney and it seemed to me that Percival Everett didn’t even care. I mean, why should he? Everett overlooks his name and instead of making irrelevant comments like everyone else, he just brings him out to lunch. 

To summarize all of this nonsense about identity, Not Sidney Poitier has a hard time finding himself because maybe he was made to be like Sidney Poitier. He cannot be his own person because too many people are comparing him to someone else because of the way he looks and because of his name. Your identity is made to separate you from everyone else. I am not constantly being compared to some famous actor and I don’t have a name that people make fun of. I am my own person. I play sports and I love to read and drink coffee. It’s what makes me, me. Your identity is what makes you, you. 

Power and Manipulation

Last week, the biggest topic being discussed in class was what Percival Everett was doing in Frenzy that was for, to, or with The Bacchae. Everyone in my group immediately started throwing out ideas. My first response was that the characters were more detailed and it was easier to describe them in Frenzy. I was told then, as Beth likes to say, to “unpack” what I mean. Well for one, if anyone asks me to characterize the main character Dionysus after reading The Bacchae, I wouldn’t really have enough evidence to say that he isn’t a good God. However, after reading Percival Everett’s novel, Frenzy, there is enough detail for me to say prove that Dionysus is manipulative, intense, and even emotional. 

As I read through Frenzy, I started to notice the trend that Dionysus would abuse his power. As the novel played out, he began to take advantage that Vlepo, the narrator, was completely devoted to him and would do literally anything for Dionysus. It seems that no matter what Dionysus did, Vlepo would be there for him. Dionysus continued to do what he thought was the right thing, just to end up hurting those that worship him. “Vlepo, Vlepo, what would I do without you, my eyes? Why, without my eyes I would not exist” (Everett 71). Dionysus can admit that he needs vlepo to survive but he had already been cruel enough to Vlepo by putting him in situations he didn’t want to be in. 

As I tried to characterize Dionysus throughout The Bacchae, I really could not decide if he was good or evil or both. It was hard for me to get a hold on what he was doing that made him so powerful and that made so many women in Thebes worship him. In Frenzy, Percival Everett really exposed Dionysus as a character. He is manipulative. He moved from one women to the next as if they were nothing. He uses Vlepo and rarely admits that he needs him and never says a simple “thank you.” Why is he like this? Maybe it’s because he is a God and so he can use his power however he pleases. Or maybe it’s because he’s insecure. 

Ultimately, I believe it’s the power that is driving Dionysus to act so cruel and to push around Vlepo who is constantly there for him. I believe Everett is taking a simple play and turning it into something to create a deeper understanding of this God of wine and fertility. He may be allowing the readers to sit back and think about why Dionysus does what he does and why he is the way that he is. He is allowing the audience to create their own version of Dionysus and choose their own traits for him and what they believe he should be viewed as.

Searching for Something Lost

“Thank you,” I said. “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost, to reunite if not with my whole self, then with a piece of it. What I’ve discovered is that this thing is not here. In fact, it is nowhere. I have learned that my name is not my name. It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself. My mother is buried not far from this auditorium, and there are no words on her headstone. As I glance out now, as I feel the weight of this trophy in my hands, as I stand like a specimen before these strangely unstrange faces, I know finally what should be written on that stone. It should say what mine will say:


-Percival Everett

As I sit in my English 203 class, scrolling through the syllabus, I find myself stopping and rereading this quote, trying to find something, anything really, that I can say I relate to. I repeat the words that are screaming at me in capital letters: “I am not myself today.” I’ve had those days. Everyone can say that they’ve had those days. The second line that stood out to me was when Percival Everett said “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and yet you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself.” Now, what have we done in class that could possibly be a connection to that? 

It may not be easy for me to admit, but I will say that I find this course challenging. I find myself sitting in class looking up words online that are used, the first one being “epigraph”. Last week when put into small groups we made lists of what causes frenzies between Spontaneous Autochthonous and Directed Allochthonous. I was at a loss (not the first time by the way) because I had not even the slightest clue as to what those words meant. As we walked through the assignment, little by little, I began to understand. Individuals can cause frenzies within themselves from what they tell themselves in their minds. Frenzies can also come from outside forces, such as peers and popular trends. 

“It seems that you know me… better than I can know myself.” Has someone ever tried to tell YOU what YOU are supposed to believe in? Has someone ever tried to influence you in ways that ended up causing panics within yourself? As the writer of this passage delivers this speech, you can tell that he is lost. He is struggling to find what he is looking for. He isn’t acting like himself. What caused this? Did he work himself too hard? Or did someone from the outside put too much pressure on him? Just this past week I put myself into a frenzy by overthinking this assignment. That would be considered Spontaneous Autochthonous. I did it to myself. I got too caught up in all these fancy words and terms that I should know like “epigraph” and “New Criticism” versus “Intertextuality” that I never really had time to stop and say to myself: “It’s okay.” These posts are to be about whatever we want them to be. We are making our own choices. The last connection that I can make from this epigraph to the works we have done in class is the play The Bacchae. Dionysus, the God of wine, has returned to the city of Thebes in search of something. Just like the writer when he says; “I came back to this place to find something, to connect with something lost…” Dionysus’ birth place is Thebes and he found himself returning to the land so that he can punish the king for not allowing the maenads to worship him. It seems to me that he is in a situation where the king and his servants are trying to act like they know everything about Dionysus. They are assuming that he is up to no good. Pentheus even claims that he does not exist. Dionysus wants power. He wants control of the people and his worshipers. That is why he came back to his place of origin. This is what he is searching for. I am a freshman in college. I am still trying to adjust to a new environment and I am trying to find myself in this new world. I may not be the best at writing or being creative for that matter, and warming up to this new class isn’t very easy for me. So I chose my epigraph based on how I was feeling and what I felt I related to most. As Percival Everett put it: “I am not myself today.”