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Tutor profile: Blake C.

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Blake C.
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Questions

Subject: Writing

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Question:

What constitutes a good conclusion for an analytical paper?

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Blake C.
Answer:

Although some popular models propose the conclusion of an essay as merely a moment to restate the essay's original thesis, this notion limits both the writer's ability to use the essay as a tool of thought and the essay's ability to completely explore its given topic. Instead, your conclusion should serve as a final push towards implication; look back on some of the analytical conclusions you have reached throughout the body of the essay. Consider them together, and ask yourself: so what? So what that these things that you have seen to be true are so? What are the potential implications? Why does this analysis matter?

Subject: Literature

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Question:

How is real and farcical space constructed in Enda Walsh's play The Walworth Farce? What are the implications of this construction?

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Blake C.
Answer:

By secluding themselves in the apartment and in the language of the Farce, Dinny and his sons have built themselves a micro-Ireland inside Elephant and Castle. Inside this apartment, “everything’s Ireland”. The three men are specified by character descriptions to have retained their “Irish accents”, specifically “Cork City accents (7), and the Farce features at least one speech about the primacy of Ireland in general and Cork in particular. The Farce is cued in and out by the playing of two songs: “A Nation Once Again” and “An Irish Lullaby.” “A Nation Once Again” is a traditional Irish anti-colonial song. The song’s lyrics look backwards, towards “boyhood’s fire” and “Greece and Rome” in order to conceive of a future where “Ireland long a province be/a Nation once again,”—basically, imagining an Ireland unconstrained by Englishness and doing that imagining not by planning for this future but instead by telling stories of the past. “An Irish Lullaby”, also known as “Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral”, also looks back towards Irish childhood, recalling the singer’s “mother” singing to them “over in Killarney/many years ago.” “Over in” implies that the song is somehow removed from the Ireland they sing about, probably physically; relevantly, this is a song of diaspora that was written by an Irish-American and made famous by Bing Crosby. So the Farce is framed by two songs that engage with Irishness and Ireland as a desirable but a dead thing. Ireland was once a nation but has gone the way of Rome; Ireland is the land of childhood peace, but Ireland is “over” there and “many years ago”. The Farce is framed by a dreamy nationalism, more focused on the desire for the comfort of Ireland and less on the ability to actually unite or free Ireland from colonial rule. Basically, the play-within-a-play is framed by a colonized, diasporic, de Valeran notion of Ireland. The farce is tied to a dream-Ireland, more recursively connected to itself than to any real notion of Ireland. So the Ireland of the Farce is, in a way, unlinked to the actual place; the idea of Cork is more important than the city. It’s important to keep in mind that this play takes place in London, the capital of the metropole, rather than in the actual colonized space. The Ireland of the Farce is the only kind of Ireland the audience sees during the play, and again, this Ireland is more attendant to a de Valeran ideal than it is to a real place. So how is this Ireland constructed? At one point in the Farce, Blake and Sean take on the roles of themselves as the children they were on their last day in Cork. They run onto the scene, and as their childhood selves, explain an incident that just occurred in the timeline of the Farce. They had just been outside where they had violently bullied a young boy named Finbarr. Finbarr, a “scout” (37), claims to have brought his scouting tent with him for the three boys to play in. When Farce-Blake and Farce-Sean find out that he does not have the tent itself, only “poles and pins,”(37), they take their revenge by saying “maybe (Finbarr) should be the tent. Maybe (they) should pin down Finbarr and stick a pole up his centre and keep cover under him,” (37). Sean and Blake see that this scout only has the supporting bits and pieces of the tent, the “poles and pins”, and not the part of the tent that actually delineates inside space. So they decide to make Finbarr the tent, to “stick a pole up his center” and through violence turn a person into a structure, and under this they will “keep cover”. The language of keeping cover is interesting, as it implies that they are hiding from some undefined outside danger. Perhaps the danger is explicitly imaginary; they have claimed to be “playing soldiers” after all. This is not made clear in either direction. Farce-Blake and Farce-Sean, in short, are left with only the scraps and supporting paraphernalia of a safe structure, and therefore try through violence to create a safe physical structure out of a living, human, Irish body. It is arguable, perhaps, that this is what Dinny is attempting with his Farce: to construct the land of Ireland out of the bodies of his sons.

Subject: English

TutorMe
Question:

Do a close reading of the first paragraph of Nella Larsen's novel Passing. How does this description relate to the concept of "passing" as it exists in the novel?

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Blake C.
Answer:

esire, specifically queer sexual desire, is displaced onto language artifacts as well as heteronormative third parties. The object that both opens the book and functions as the first signifier of Irene and Clare’s connection to each other, the envelope containing Clare’s letter, appears to be heavily queer coded. Larsen writes: “After her other ordinary and clearly directed letters the long envelope of thin Italian paper with its almost illegible scrawl seemed out of place and alien. And there was, too, something mysterious and slightly furtive about it. A thin sly thing which bore no return address to betray the sender. Not that she hadn’t immediately known who its sender was[…] furtive, but yet in some peculiar, determined way a little flaunting. Purple ink. Foreign paper of extraordinary size,” (1). The envelope is “out of place and alien” against the backdrop of Irene’s “ordinary” mail, clearly set apart by the delicate “Italian” paper and its unusual size. The writing is “almost illegible” and there is “no return address to betray the sender”. The envelope is described as “sly,” “furtive”, and “mysterious”, but also “purple” and “flaunting”. The envelope echoes the hallmarks of camp performance, wherein queer people behave in coded ways in order to signal their existence to other queer people without “betray[ing]” their identities to a violently heteropatriarchal world. And indeed, despite the envelope arriving with “no return address”, Irene “immediately” knows the letter was sent by Clare, recognizing the hidden identity connected to the envelope. This reading establishes a queer frame from the outset of the novel, but also signals the displacement of queer love into safer, outside locations. Here, the notion of queer identity is displaced into an envelope, an easily discarded object that, at first, Irene resists opening.

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