“The Lottery”

            The action of the story takes place in a village on the morning of June 27th. It is a bright, sunny day where the flowers are blossoming; there is a lot of green grass. At the beginning of the story the atmosphere is bright as people gather at the square where they talk with each other, and reunite as a community. Meanwhile, the children are playing and enjoying being outside after a long school year. This village seems to be the perfect place to live in until we later on discover that it only brings misfortune to that community.

            Those who reside in the village don’t play regular lottery where if you win or loss doesn’t matter but instead if the paper they get out of a black box is marked then they are brutally killed. The box is black and located at the center of the square where everybody gathers. Its appearance and position symbolize death, sadness, cruelty and that it has all the authority is selecting who is going to be killed. This is a tradition that has existed in that society for a very long time, and it seems that if you don’t attend the square is like bringing disgrace to your family. Those villages that stopped doing the lottery were tagged as fools who instead of going forward are going backward. According to Tuan that particular idea expressed by the individual is just a myth that is shared collectively by this particular village because they have a lack of knowledge of what will happen next if they stop doing that tradition (85).

                It seems that gathering in that place brought back society order as it was before when there were other generations. According to “Mythical Space and Place,” “Man wants to order his experiences of the world; not surprisingly, the world so ordered revolves around him” (Tuan 93). This is seen in the story where only males of households were called to pick up the paper from the box which symbolizes that women were oppressed in that society as they were looked down on if they didn’t have a man to pick up the paper. This was seen with Janey who went to pick up the paper for her husband who was absent, and was asked if she didn’t have an older son to do it (Jackson 249). By asking her that, she was reminded that it wasn’t right for women to do that type of job because it was more a man thing. Again, the setting shapes people’s oppression because in another city or town she would probably be treated like anybody else with the same male rights.

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“Spatial Ability, Knowledge, and Place” and “Cathedral”

The short story “Cathedral” is mostly about the interaction between two characters one of them referred to as bub which is a term used to speak to an unnamed male, and the other named Robert. At the beginning of the story bub doesn’t want the blind man to come to sleep over to his house because he concluded that Robert was going to be boring person to be around since he was blind and in movies those people who have that particular disability are portrayed as people who never laugh, and walk really slow. Later on, he finds it is the total opposite as Robert smokes and likes to try new things such as smoking cannabis (drug). Both of them stood up watching television while the woman felt asleep. As they watched television their relationship got stronger through a challenge that Robert placed in front of bub by telling him to describe the cathedral.

Tuan says, “People who are good at finding their way in the city may be poor at giving street directions to the lost, and hopeless in their attempts to draw maps.” (68) This is seen with bub that has seen a lot of cathedrals in his life, and can recognize them right away but doesn’t have the skills needed to draw a picture in the blind man’s head. It is like if you went looking for an address in a new neighborhood where you would be like a blind person because you don’t know where anything is. If you ask someone for directions they might give them with so many twist and turns that you will still be lost and even more confused.

Since Robert couldn’t comprehend what bub was describing as a cathedral, he thought bub could show him the cathedral through a drawing. Tuan says, “Walking is a skill, but if I can “see” myself walking and if I can hold that picture in mind so that I can analyze how I move and what path I am following, then I also have knowledge.”  (68) This is seen when bub holds a pen on a thick paper and starts to draw the cathedral with Roberts hand on top of his. Robert places his hand on top of bub to be able to follow the same path the pen pursued which in return helped create a picture in his mind of where the windows are, the doors, etc. The end product would be a cathedral that he could not only trace on paper but also see it in his mind. Now he understood what bub was describing in the first place.

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1st draft of “The Metamorphosis”

            “The Metamorphosis” is a work of fiction written by Franz Kafka. This is one of a few short fiction books that he ever published because he couldn’t finish his writings or sends to be published since he never felt his writing had reached a point where it was perfect. In this particular short story the word from the title “metamorphosis” means to have a change of appearance in the physical form. This is seen with the main character named Gregor Samsa who wakes up one morning as a beetle in his bedroom. He tried to get-off his bed to go to work but he had to struggle in order to stand-up. His mother, father, sister, and his boss became concerned about the fact that he didn’t go to work or come out of his room. Then they became more anxious because when he talked to them, they heard an animal voice rather than a human one. When he let them see his new body appearance, they got really scared. The office manager left frightened, and also with Gregor’s job. Gregor was locked in his room, where he spent the rest of his life. Concepts of “space” and “place” shape our understanding of setting in “The Metamorphosis” as it helps the characters determine the importance of barriers, feeling of crowdedness, the need to protect, and give meaning to a place.

            The action of the story takes place in Gregor’s room which creates a barrier that stops him from coming into contact with his family. When he’s locked in his room the walls become an obstacle between him and his family. The walls act as a frontier where they separate two different groups from each other, the humans and the beetle. The barrier suggests that they aren’t at the same level and that they are very different from each other. Even though there are physical barriers Tuan argues that children become aware of other noises in other rooms and pay attention to them even though they cannot see those who are talking (23). This can be seeing with Gregor who would run to the spot from where the voices where coming from and would lean on it to hear what his family were talking about including their financial situation, etc.  Tuan also argues that baby’s don’t try to go beyond their crib barriers to reach objects that are outside of it (23). Gregor just like a baby, has a small place under the couch where he feels he’s home. Even though it isn’t as comfortable as being on top of the bed, or just in an open space in his room, he feels safe just like a child in the crib, where he feels that nothing can hurt him as long as he is under it. He never tried to get out or try to reach for his sister when she came in during the day to feed him. It is as if an imaginary wall was preventing him from going beyond his couch to try to interact with his sister when she entered his room. When barriers exist you acquire a sense of distance when you see where you are and where the other people are (Tuan 23). This is seen when every night the living room door was opened for Gregor to see his family interact with each other while he had to lay in the darkness of his own room (Kafka 321). The physical distance between his room and the living room reflects both the physical and emotional distance that his family has with him. After the metamorphosis his family doesn’t come into contact with him or tell him that they care about him anymore. They didn’t want to have a close relationship with him because now he was a repugnant bug.

            A place can feel crowded when there are physical objects that prevent you from moving around freely or when you become aware of other people sharing the same space as you. On one hand Gregor feels that his bedroom is small because he can’t move freely anymore. His room was small and now it seemed even smaller because of his new body size, so it was taking more space along with his furniture. He wanted to move around without worrying about bumping into his bed, desk, etc. but he couldn’t do it because there wasn’t any space. Toward the end of the story, his personal place became even more constricted as stuff that his family didn’t need where being thrown into the room, it was as if now it was a closet. In closets everything is tight. It doesn’t allow any movement at all. “Alone ones thoughts wonder freely over space. In the presence of others they are pulled back by awareness of other personalities…” (Tuan 59) This can be seen with a particular time when his sister stepped into the room earlier one day and she found him sitting still looking out the window, she ran out of the room because that day he wasn’t under his couch (Kafka 316). When she ran out, it was a form of being pulled back from the thought that he wouldn’t be in sight but instead was reminded that he was in that room. Since she became aware of his presence she couldn’t act freely as she would in any other room of the house. Every time she stepped into the room, she felt as if her internal space was invaded by a lot of people and was suffocating as others breathed the air. Therefore the feeling of a lack of air would make her rush to open the window as if the beetle took all the space and was causing her to choke. Tuan’s idea can also relate to Gregor because when he was alone he didn’t have to worry about the fact that he could scare or disgust others with his appearance. The moment that his sister would step into the room, he would become aware of the fact that he was a beetle that he needed to stay still and hidden in order to not frighten her. He also felt that he was been watched by his sister and that thought would make him feel very crowded in his own room as he became aware of space.

            Children as well as adults acquire a sense of property when something belongs to them so they feel a need to protect it (Tuan 32) whether it’s a toy, electronic, person and even a room. People feel a need to defend their personal property when others threaten to take it away. In this case Gregor felt the need to protect his things which he didn’t consider valuable until his sister and mother came to his room during the daytime to start moving everything out. He had wished that his desk, bed, etc were moved out so that he could have plenty of space to move freely but when he imagined that his personal place wouldn’t have any memories of when he was a human, he didn’t want them to move anything out anymore. If his room was empty, it would symbolize that he was never going to return to being a human and that now he would be a bug in all sense of the word because he wouldn’t have any attached memories to his past human life.  

            A place given meaning by humans as it reminds them of personal experiences and status gained at home. Every piece of furniture had a particular memory related to it because as you grow up, you become attached to objects and places (Tuan 29). The alarm clock reminded him that he had to go work as a salesman, in order to support his family and give them a decent lifestyle. His desk was his companion through all his study years ranging from elementary to business school (Kafka 319). According to Tuan space is a symbol of wealth and power as, “The big man occupies and has access to more space than lesser beings.” (Tuan 58) Gregor has access to only one room because he is a bug who is considered to be lower than a human while his family has access to almost all the rooms in the house. Wealth plays a role as who is considered higher than whom. This is seen with Gregor who had access to all the rooms when he worked but by losing his job, he also loss the freedom of moving between rooms. On the other hand his family had power over him and the house because they were the ones who decided who they would rent a room because now they were the ones paying rent.

            The setting helped shape how the characters interacted with each other because of the barriers constructed in the apartment, as well as the crowdedness, meaning, and protection of the place. There were physical as well as emotional restrains from each other as Gregor’s family avoided him. He lost his family and his human body with his transformation. The only thing he had left was to protect his personal space because the things in there still had meaning to him. In the story we saw a shift of power from Gregor over to his family where he was the one who once had the wealth as well as the freedom to move around but now his family was the one who could move around and go out to work. Your life might be one way today but in the future there could be a twist that reshapes your entire life.

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Idea Map

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“Spaciousness and Crowding” and “The Metamorphosis”

The short story “The Metamorphosis” revolves around the main character, Gregor Samsa, who wakes up one morning to go to work but finds out his appearance changed from a human form into a beetle form. A new ability he acquired as a beetle was to walk on the ceiling. An idea introduced in “Spaciousness and Crowding” is that when people refer to space, they associate it with freedom because you can have enough room to walk around, or accomplish anything you want in that particular place (Tuan, 52). This can be seen with Gregor, who found it pleasant to walk on the ceiling because now he had plenty of room to move freely without worrying if he was going to bump into his desk, bed, etc. He also felt free because now he was able to do something he enjoyed without space restricting him.

 His sister realized that he had a new habit of walking on the ceiling and convinced her mother to help her move everything out of the room. When Gregor realized that the room was almost empty, he recognized that he didn’t want it to be emptied anymore. This occurs because according to “Spaciousness and Crowding” when you see space, you become aware of the place you are in (Tuan, 54). It means that when Gregor perceived his room as very spacious, he realized that room was the place that witnessed his hard working days, nights spent there, etc. These were all memories that he would have to give up, along with his room which was part of him. If he gave up that place’s items as a trade-off for space, it meant he was giving up his human body for a beetle one also.

            Tuan brings up the point that as people enter a particular space it starts to feel crowded (59). This can be seen in the story of “The Metamorphosis” where every time Gregor’s sister went to his room she would rush to the window and open it wide because she felt crowded. She felt crowded emotionally because she was the one expected to take care of him. Every time she stepped into the room, she felt a tension in the air which would make her breathing harder just like when you are in a hot, crowded, closed place and feel there is not enough air.

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“Space and Place” and “A&P”

            One point brought up in the chapter Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values from the book Space and Place is that the taller a building is constructed the more prestige it gains. Those buildings that are taller than the rest are looked-upon with admiration. This can also relate to people, as seen in the story A&P with a girl who made herself appear tall by walking with her body straight, and by stretching her neck as high as possible while wearing a bikini. She walked with her head up high showing that she was very proud of how her body looked like. Everybody looked at her as if she was out of her mind because she was trying to stand out of the crowd. This can be seen in architecture where every building is short except one that is very tall. As a result, it also stands out of the ordinary but nobody says anything because they have seen those types of buildings all around the world but not girls walking in bikinis so they were shocked by that particular scene. Their body uneasiness didn’t stop her from defending her uniqueness. She did it by showing others that she could walk proudly along the aisles like a queen who shows-off her dress.

            The chapter of Space and Place argues that walking upright is confronting gravity. Gravity is a force that tries to keep you down from rising. This is seen in the story of A&P where three girls defy society’s dressing standards. One of society’s most important rules is that you are only supposed to wear certain types of clothes to certain places for example if you are going to a wedding, you wear a fancy dress but you don’t wear it to go shopping to the supermarket. It seems to me that she is reveling against society and making a stand saying, “Who are you to tell me what I can and can’t wear?” just like you challenge gravity when you walk even though if gravity exists than you should have spent your entire life lying down.

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