Reading Response #10

Select one of the stories assigned this week, and post a 500-word response below on what you saw as the story’s strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to also make a comment on a classmate's response for full credit.


19 thoughts on “Reading Response #10

  1. Kelsey

    I read Refresh, Refresh. I felt that one of the story’s strengths was the descriptive language. I liked how it described people so well and the setting of the town. You could really see yourself there and imagine this sleepy town that was missing all of the men except for old grandpas or disabled, overweight men. It did a good job of describing these boys’ pain and their anguish over having their fathers gone. It showed how having their fathers deployed can age you. In the beginning of the story, they sounded like children or adolescents just being boys and learning to channel their anger by learning to box in the backyard. However, as the story went on, you felt their anger grow and their violence escalate. They began drinking and frequenting bars, and fighting so much they were constantly bruised and bloodied. Even though it felt like a long time was passing because of the escalated anger, the author talked about the change of the seasons to remind the reader that the amount of time was really not that long. That did a good job of showing how much can change in a short amount of time, especially under the circumstances.
    However, I don’t enjoy reading about violence and harm being done to people so I can’t say that I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I felt that the boys were very immature and misguided. I think that speaks to their fathers being gone, however lots of people have their dads, husbands, brothers deploy and don’t lose their minds and beat people half to death. If anything, I think this is a good testament to how much support is needed when soldiers deploy. Not only for the active duty member, but for the family members. These boys didn’t have much of a support system and not much of an adult presence after their dads deployed, and were left to try to deal with all of their feelings while being isolated.
    I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. They joined to make their fathers proud on one hand, but also had no respect for the marines or what the military was doing overseas, and felt that the Marines had robbed them of their fathers. Clearly they were angry, and it seems they went and joined mostly out of anger and having nothing else to do with their lives. It leaves me with an uneasy feeling because that doesn’t seem to be a recipe for success, especially for people who are already committing violent acts.

    1. Benjamin Hayward

      I had a different reaction than yours, as you can see from the response below. The glory of the Soldier, the Marine, the Air man is attractive, as shone on the Silver Screen.

    2. Lilia Lundquist

      I thought there was a great use of detail as well. I felt like it helped give more light to the progression of emotion. I enjoyed the violence portrayed, I feel like the material is more real when people are experiencing hardships. But I understand that this sort of story is not for everyone.

    3. Delaney E Reece

      Because I focused on the other story, I liked that you mentioned and broke down your understanding of this one it helped me a lot! I was not as engaged in this story and the fact that it engaged you made it much more interesting to me.

  2. Benjamin Hayward

    Refresh, Refresh has an interesting name. Until mid-story, I did not connect the title to the email letters. As a military brat, I understand what the children were going through, missing their father, wanting the approval of their father. I understand this, because I am one of those fathers.

    I’ve been away from home more than I have been home. It’s different from the military life before the advent of Skype, Facetime, and Messenger. In service and out of service, I manage to meet with my kids once a week, see them once or twice a year. Separated from service, my skill set provides for my family, but it is a skill set of war, of violence, not of peaceful men. Because of war, death, destruction, and revenge I am being well paid for my services rendered. My children will not want for college, or other items in life, provided they spend wisely.

    Reading Refresh, Refresh brings back memories. Memories of Jody. Once, I was a Jody. Jody is the man who takes the woman when her man is away to war. He is part of the reason for “Dear, John,” letters. Much like the recruiter, as the story describes, but it fits more with World War II than it does the modern warfare era. The man with the black armbands, burial details, I’ve been there, done that. I understand why the sons are so fearful of his presence, of the words coming out of his mouth. I never had problems delivering the somber news, to the mothers, wives, girlfriends, and daughters. I was never attacked like in the story. Words are the same. Men and women alike cried at my words. For the now single mother, wife, and girlfriend I became their comfort during loss. I was once again Jody.

    Boys will be boys. My generation was not into makeup and cross dressing, nor were we into talking about our feelings or protesting. Soft times breed weak men. I grew up during hard times. Hard times make strong men. Boys in the ring of garden hose, fighting with gloves, setting rules to establish a standard of weakness. I grew up fighting. I fought a lot, mostly I fought kids in the neighborhood just because I could. I didn’t like being told what to do. I didn’t like their attitudes. So I adjusted it. I fought at the bus stop, on the bus, school yard during lunch. Growing up with an absent father, I had to invent what I thought a man should be. Families need stable homes with two parents, not broken homes. To have same sex parents buts the child at a disadvantage, for they only get one point of view, from the same sex couple.

    As a former Marine, I can sympathize with the men being reserve guard duty, then being called up for war. As a former Marine, I can sympathize with Refresh, Refresh, looking for emails from home, from the time I was Jody. Sometimes I press refresh to see what the kids send. This expectation is what makes hope exist when so fa, far from home.

  3. Lilia Lundquist

    Out of the readings for this week I really enjoyed Benjamin Percy’s Refresh Refresh. I thought Percy did a great job with incorporating detail to the point where the story was like a movie playing in my head as I read it. It was very easy to become immersed in the plot as well as the two boys who obviously have some emotional issues. I also found it interesting that by the time I reached the end of the short story so much had happened, but I was unaware as to how long had gone by in the story. It seemed that in the beginning the two boys must have been freshman or sophomores in high school. Gordon is described as having a body similar to an under developed boy. They also seem to indulge in activities that would be more associated with younger boys. But later on, when they are buying beer and hooking up with women they meet in bars I am completely lost as to how much time has past and how old these characters are. I found that the story’s greatest strength was how vividly the depiction of anger was. In the beginning, Gordon specifically, is fueled by what I would classify more as frustration. As time goes on the boys seem to reminisce more and more on their fathers, almost drowning in their absence. The emotion shown after they have stolen the football boy’s guns and taken their revenge, is far different. I noticed there was an immediate change in their character. It was almost as though having that kind of power and being able to be the ones to initiate humiliation instead of enduring it was what enabled them to age. They became men in a sense. I think that that sort of control could have been associated with what they thought their fathers would want. During the time they are getting involved with actions more common among men; drinking, sex, they seem to be fueled more by anger instead of frustration. This sort of progression is nothing less than bitter resentment. The boys are ultimately following in the footsteps of their fathers who must not have been to emotional stable themselves. It was difficult to not consider the father figures to be very selfish. They drove away their wives and left their sons alone, expecting they would be able to raise themselves. I think the boys did in a sense, but in an environment that served as a constant reminder to what they didn’t have.
    I also enjoyed how Percy though he relied on the two boys for his center focus also incorporated the sleazy recruiter Dave. In the beginning the boys hate him because he has more rank than their fathers and abuses his power. In the final moments of the story when the boys are beating Dave the abuse and neglect they have endured comes full circle. They have gone from boys who suffer from meekness and are labeled as victims to men who create victims.

    1. Tometria Jackson

      Your last sentence is powerful and all too true in reality; children do grow up to become what was modeled to them by their parents. I haven’t read this story, but maybe I will due to your description. Thanks!

    2. Courtney Kisner

      I really love the themes that you uncovered in his story. I didn’t even think about the story going full circle, and the fact that the boys went from being victims to creating them, but that’s a very good point. I also thought Percy did an excellent job at hooking the reader, though I agree it was somewhat confusing with the time elapsed, it was still a well-rounded story. Great reflections!

    3. Kelsey

      I guess I have a hard seeing them as victims, because being an Army brat myself, and now raising two Army brats, I don’t believe that deployed parents makes you a victim. I was proud of my father for what he did and what he chose to sign up for, I never wanted to seek out people and hurt them, or create victims. As for my children, their father is gone a lot, and while I am scared for how they will handle his absence as they get older, I wouldn’t ever let them use that as an excuse to be unkind or cruel.

  4. Tometria Jackson

    I read St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russel. I was confused when I first began reading this story; I wasn’t sure if this was a fantastical fiction story about a group of wolves in a boarding school or what. Upon reading further, I saw that it was about a group of indigenous girls and their experiences in a Catholic school.

    Over and over, I was reminded of a course I took last fall; Native Cultures of Alaska. When Alaska was purchased in the 1800’s, the dominate Western Culture looked upon the Natives as ‘less than’. A prevailing theory was Social Darwinism which believed that the most evolved cultures were better than the lesser evolved.

    The common practice was to try to ‘civilize’ the Native populations by enculturating them the Western practices. Schools were set up with the purpose of eradicating Native traditions and culture and substituting them with more acceptable ways.

    The children were removed from Native homes and sent to schools where their names were changed and their cultural identity was erased. St. Lucy’s sounds exactly like one of the many ‘well meaning’ schools that thought they were doing the indigenous children a favor.

    This story was sad, because the girls knew that they were seen as a pack of wild animals by the teachers. Their ways were savage and uncouth, but over time as the girls began to learn the new ways of behaving, they looked with disdain on their peers who weren’t progressing as quickly.

    The girls became ashamed of returning to their old ways, and yet they didn’t fit in with their new culture. At the end of the story, the main character visits her home after having been away for a while, and she looked upon her family as a pack of wolves. She found that she was not one of them and she no longer belonged with them.

    1. nmfleming

      Have you ever heard of or read My Name is Not Easy by Debby Edwardson? This story reminds me a lot of that book, its a little sad and kind of horrifying the things that they talk about. But its a really good read.

  5. Courtney Kisner

    I really enjoyed reading “Refresh, Refresh,” not only for its storyline or its action, but also the childlike way the characters felt, but also the heaviness of the whole thing. The picture that Percy was able to draw for me, was an old-timey one, drenched with deep issues that the characters seemed to harbor. There was a lightness though, in the way that Percy described each person–a poetic way that he brought life to each one. When the author describes the men that remained in Crow when all of the others went overseas, is an image that I think most readers “get”. Some of the men that remained were a certain type of way, “there were old men, like my grandfather, whom I lived with–men who had paid their dues,” and then there were also “incapable men,” and the image that Percy colored was one I could clearly see, “men who rarely shaved and watched daytime television in their once-white underpants.” Percy then transitions into describing Dave Lightener, who I think was a very interesting and thoughtful character. Lightener, to me, described the effects of war back at home. His character exemplified the bitterness felt towards the war in general, harbored by the children of the men fighting in it. Lightener slept with the lonely wives, whose husbands were at war, and in that description of this one man alone, other “heaviness” is revealed. The weight that everyone had to pull on the home front is flawlessly depicted in “Refresh, Refresh”.

    The ease with which Percy is able to describe even simple things, like the pound of bacon with the stick of butter and how when it hardened they would use it as polish for their sleds, for example, revealed an author who seemed as though he hardly had to try. The whole story came off as effortless, and I think that’s what you see in a good short story, or in stories that really grasp the reader’s full attention. The juxtaposition of the violence of the war with the simplicity of the boys’ daily musings brought for an interesting tone. The line, “our fathers haunted us,” and the way that feeling resonated through the whole piece was chilling. I loved the ending. I wasn’t expecting it, despite all of the violence that was already present in the story, that last image of Dave crying at the crater and the boys rushing back to enlist was so good. This story, I think, excelled in its tone, flawless character descriptions, meaning and clear themes. I couldn’t find anything I did not like about it after going through it again. It took a little bit to completely hold my full attention, but once it did it had one hundred percent of it. The only way I can think of to describe this piece as a whole is ‘heavy yet weightless’, and I think this story helped the most as far as inspiration goes for my short story, even though the themes and plot are no where near the same.

  6. Delaney E Reece

    I read the story St. Lucy’s school for girls raised by wolves and I was a fan of it. I liked how the story was so symbolic and it took a lot of thinking to discover what it was really about. Because of this I am still a little confused as to what it could have been about, and the particular circumstances being identified. I felt that it related to the Native American students who were taken from their families and made to act like western catholics. I know for certain it is related to catholicism based on the references to specific churches, but it’s hard to know what situation involving stealing children is being alluded to.
    In the story there were only three children really focused on and I would have liked to hear more about the other children or other events rather than the broad story with small events sprinkled in. With those events in mind I think there could have been even more added to them to give a greater understanding of the experience overall. The same goes for the boys school, which was reintroduced really well. Because it is said that the characters forgot about them, and well i was reading the focus was on the girls to the point where I had forgotten about them as well.
    I think that the symbolism is the key to what makes the story so haunting and also so reasonable through the eyes of the children experiencing it. With this in mind, I would have liked there to be more clues as to where it was taking place, and more on what happened latter. It is the kind of short story that feels real enough that you want to know what happened to the characters over all and that’s what makes for a good story in my opinion. Another really strong point is the kind of language used. I think that the relationship to animals and the way that animals live helped to create a discomfort in the writing that was very effective. The author was really good at creating and alleviating tension in some non traditional and unexpected ways which I really enjoyed. The images used where almost dirty like you could see and mud and yuck all over, but that was the good thing. It was a complicated set of emotions and identifications that were portrayed and I liked that a lot in the end. Well reading it, it was more difficult to appreciate the language used because it was so harsh and different.
    I do not think that there is much overall that I would like different. I personally do not write in the same why that this was written so it is hard for me to see where changes would fit. Based on the kind of writing that it is and the circumstances for which it was written I think the author has done really well.

    1. Shana Waring

      I’m appreciative to get a focal point on what the author was trying to convey. I just simply could not get through the text for this story, so to be able to see some of the imagery and the associations is nice. I think you made a solid point at the end of your reflection with the difference in writing styles and how you feel like making changes to the story would be difficult. Although we don’t always enjoy works as readers, we have to understand it could simply be the immense differences we have as writers and readers.

  7. nmfleming

    For this weeks reading assignment I chose to read St. Lucy’s Home Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell. I thought that this was just another short and it was but what I thought to be kind of strange was that there was a small paragraph about what the stage looks like. Reading this story reminded me a little about another book I read called My Name is Not Easy by Debby Edwardson. In Debby Edwardson’s book she talks about Alaska Native children who were sent from their homes to a boarding school in Anchorage during the 60s. Reading stories that talk about separating Alaska Native children from their homes because they weren’t “getting an education”, before I read My Name is Not Easy and learned about the Alaska cultures I might’ve thought what they were doing was normal, but now I’d have to disagree. These children were learning, they weren’t learning like the European, but they were still learning. I think what we did to those Alaska Native’s is so wrong, cultures were lost because of what we did. Because these children were forced to be more like Europeans’ than their own cultural when they went back home it was different, they were looked down on by their families.

  8. Jess Young

    I chose St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves. It was a super interesting and fun read! It takes place in a world shared with lycanthropes and centers around a young girl whose parents are both werewolves. Apparently, the condition skips a generation, so the girl and her siblings were not changelings and their parents opted to have them sent to a school for rehabilitation and immersion into the human society. The story talks about the two different societies and the need for the children to adapt to the human way of life and lay aside their wolf ways. The storyteller, Claudette, narrates the changes she feels and the steps she takes towards becoming human.
    One thing which I found very interesting was Claudette’s youngest sister Maribella and her inability to adapt to a new way of life. Despite constant teaching and lessons which mimicked A Clockwork Orange, the child would still run on all fours, bite ankles, scratch, and kill animals for food. The months began to wear on her and eventually the pack rejected her to send her back to the woods. Although fictional, I wonder if immigrants to other countries feel the same way as the characters from the story. Some people find it easy to assimilate to a new culture, while others are incapable of letting go of the way of life they have learned.
    St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was a very interesting fantasy… I found it immersing and fun to read.

  9. Shana Waring

    I began reading “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” but I just couldn’t find a piece of the story to pull me in. After struggling to make it past the second page I turned my attention to “Refresh Refresh”. This read was far more interesting and relatable subject matter for me. I enjoyed the prospect of living life as a relative to someone serving in the military along with home life back home. I haven’t read many stories which provide the transitions so fluidly and in such detail.

    The activities the boys carry out while at home, or rather out around town are written in a way that allows the reader to feel present in the moment. Sliding down the crater was so easy to picture and something quite humorous to those of us who get to experience similar adventures. There were emotions of excitement, sadness, and anger from the boys as they experienced separation from their father’s. I felt the author did a great job describing the emotions so they were not clearly spoken but rather a progression in the story.

    As a military spouse, there is always a fear of the behavioral changes that come along with children experiencing deployment. As active duty, it is expected there will be a time of deployment which draws a family so far apart in distance. As a reservist, there is more of a knowledge that you will need to volunteer to come upon orders of deployment. Unfortunately, that is not always true which can make the deployment tougher, especially on children. The boys show classic signs of dealing with tough changes at crucial times in their adolescents. I’m glad the topic was approached in a way which was intriguing to the reader, yet allowed for reflection after reading. This was a really great read.

  10. Draven

    Honestly, St. Lucy’s home for girls, was not my style of book, and I could hardly make it through the whole thing. Refresh, Refresh however was more understandable, and was definitely a play on certain emotions. If you put yourselves in the shoes of the boys, you would feel all of the emotions that they feel. The anger that you would hold for Dave after all of the stupidly asshole things he does, just for him to be the very person to tell you that you have just lost one of the most important people in your life, is pathetic.
    Seth is just a bully in this story, but he still has an emotion tied to it. Revenge. Revenge is a powerful thing, this person is just a jerk too you and your friend, you would want revenge. This is a key point in the story. This was the point that the characters realize they enjoyed pain. Not just others, but their own. This led to the ending when the characters take their revenge upon Dave. This is the point of retribution for the characters, they take the leap of faith, and leave for the front lines, where their fathers fought and died, and where they begin their journey.

Comments are closed.