Theme Of Conformity And Rebellion In Bartleby, The Scrivener, We Real Cool And I, Too

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I have come to realize that I usually only surround myself with friends that share similar beliefs to me. I mostly viewed my opinion as to the truth and that those with different views are wrong. So, I would disregard different opinions and keep to myself. Reading the various pieces from the ‘Conformity and Rebellion’ theme has shown me the different perspectives from different kinds of people. Just because they have different views does not mean theirs are not valid. Each piece showed how they related to the theme of conformity and rebellion and why it is important to examine every detail.

‘Bartleby, the Scrivener’ by Herman Melville was one of the stories to make me think twice about how I should have reacted differently (Page 267). When I had first read the story, I did not understand why Bartleby would have to be rude to his colleagues. Although his words of ‘ I prefer not to’ seemed polite, at the same they did not seem to be. He would say this phrase for mostly all the scenes that he is in when asked for requests. I thought that it was human nature to accept simple requests. As I stated in Discussion Post 6, I think humans tend to long for approval from those around us, so we would do anything possible for it as long as it is not too much of us. It seems Bartleby, did not care for approval from others. I am self-aware and I recognize that when I am around my classmates, I put up an act so that they will accept or approve of me. This made me ask myself why I would need approval from others to be happy. As I got more into reading the story and rereading it, I saw that Bartleby was distancing himself from everyone. He would shoot down every interaction the narrator attempted to have with him and would repeat “I prefer not to.” The narrator wanted Bartleby to conform by making or suggesting for him to do certain tasks, but Bartleby rebels by saying no. In a way, he did not seem like he was a pleasant character or person to get along with. It was not until the end that I realized he wanted to be alone for a reason. He isolated himself because he was stuck in it for many years. I had just assumed he had just a rude personality but I learned that he had a backstory that caused him to be this way. I should not have judged based on just the beginning, but instead, make an opinion when I have the full story.

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The second piece is called ‘We Real Cool’ by Gwendolyn Brooks (Page 362). At first, you would assume that the poem would be about a teenager being reckless. After reading the poem a few more times, I started to understand the darker meaning of it. The beginning of the poem did seem innocent with them only skipping school, but as the poem went further, it starts to get darker with the ending stating “We Die Soon.” These pool players seem to know what they are doing and that their actions will not lead them onto a good path. This poem relates to the theme of ‘Conformity and Rebellion’ because they are teenagers that are rebelling because they know that they are young and reckless. In the beginning, I did not think too much of what the meaning of the poem would be because I thought it was going to be simple. Even though this poem is short, they have an intense meaning. I realized this poem was not just simple when I understood that these were from the perspective of teenagers that knew their lives were going downhill even though they tried to pass it off as being ‘cool.’ I felt that this poem was a cry for help. This changed me because I had never had the chance to think that they could be rebelling because they were looking for someone to reach out and help them.

The last piece for the ‘Conformity and Rebellion’ theme is ‘I, Too’ by Langston Hughes (Page 367). This poem talks about an African American man who is either a servant or slave that is yearning for equality. He is told to go to the back when there is company over like they were ashamed of him and I think he knew that. He wants them to one day finally see that he is also American by stating “I, too, sing America.” He is someone who does not to be ashamed because he is beautiful and this will see it. When I first interpreted this, I thought it was just about him wanting to be American too. I then realized that he does not just want to be American because the title ‘I, Too’ suggests that there are other things he wants to be and do. This changed my thinking because I had originally assumed he only wanted to be American but with further inspection, there are other things he desires too. I had always known that it was hard for many African Americans because this was during the Jim Crow era but I can also see how determined they were. They did not let anyone discourage them and kept on with hope and determination.

Before I started to read these pieces, I only thought about my opinions and did not care about the point of view of others. I now see that having a close mindset will not help me. After reading them and analyzing them, I recognized that in order to form a good opinion, I needed to see all the different views from different people. From now on, I will need to first find the full story and analyze it before making a full opinion and to find the different points of view.


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